Autism is a condition that erodes human connection. It can isolate individuals, it can isolate families, and it can break apart communities. That’s why, as VIA founder David Gordon is sometimes heard to say: “the solution is connection, community.”
At VIA we work to foster connections and community every day. But the month of April affords a special opportunity to do so. This year, for Autism Awareness Month, VIA hit the streets and the park and the malls and even one fancy restaurant to bring home the ideas of connection and community and the ways we work to provide them for the families we serve.
We kicked off the month with Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s. Doug and his staff have supported VIA year after by dedicating this community awareness raiser to highlight our programs. VIA families and staff and volunteers turned out to scoop and raise community awareness for the hundreds of people who turned out.
Over in CitySpace, the public meeting and display space over the downtown mall, we posted two display boards celebrating VIA’s 20 years bringing life-changing services to our families.
During the TOM TOM FOUNDERS FESTIVAL, VIA co-founder David Gordon led a luncheon discussion panel at Fleurie Restaurant on building community. VIA stalwarts Mark Lorenzoni, Peggy Halliday, and Executive Director Ethan Long shared personal stories and ideas with TOM TOM keynote speaker Mike Porath, founder of the online disability community The Mighty.
For two days over the weekend, we manned (and womanned) a VIA information tent in Lee Park — sharing info about VIA and signing up passersby for Run for Autism 5K.
To wrap up the month, VIA participated in the University of Virginia’s Autism Pathways Symposium, where medical researchers from UVA and faculty from the Curry School of Education were joined by community partners like VIA and Albemarle County Special Ed to talk about initiatives and partnerships that will shape the future of autism services in Virginia. Stay tuned, as VIA will have more news about its plans for the future, and ways it can collaborate with UVA to meet the needs of people with autism across the spectrum, across the lifespan, and across the Commonwealth.