Go teams for Autism Awareness

Team Health Mats from left to right: Michael Del Rossi, Kris Smith, Kathy Ross, Vince Del Rossi

April is Autism Awareness Month and Monday, April 2 is Autism Awareness Day. On Autism Awareness Day, people are encouraged wear bright blue to show support for those on the autism spectrum.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a bio-neurological disability that affects the normal development of the brain. Typically, individuals with autism often experience verbal and non-verbal communication challenges, along with difficulties in the areas of social interaction and cognitive function.

Autism is now the largest developmental disorder in the world, occurring in 1 in 68 births – 1 in every 42 boys. While there is no medical detection or cure for autism, its numbers continue to grow at an alarming rate. Autism research is underfunded, under-researched and commonly misunderstood, but many are working to make a change in these disturbing statistics.

Brandywine River Museum of Art offers autism services

Brandywine River Museum of Art offers programs throughout the year for those on the autism spectrum. Responses from attendees to previous events have been enthusiastic, with guests both impressed with and grateful for the experience. The programs, created with input from occupational therapists and local families, strive to provide a welcoming experience and provide pre-visit materials, gallery activities, and sensory break areas. The museum’s next autism-related event, Sensory-Friendly Saturday, is April 14 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Families are invited to enjoy a variety of creative activities throughout the museum for visitors on the autism spectrum or with a sensory processing disorder. The event is free, but space is limited and prior registration is required. For more information, or to register, please contact Laura Westmoreland at lwestmoreland@brandywine.org or 610-388-8120.

Thanks to a grant from PECO, Brandywine River Museum of Art has created PECO Sensory-Friendly Museum Packs, which visitors may borrow during general museum hours from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The packs, available at Visitor Services, contain fidgets, noise-cancelling headphones, and museum activity suggestions for a successful museum experience.

Eagles Autism Challenge - Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19

Philadelphia Eagles players, alumni, coaches, executives, cheerleaders and SWOOP will come together for the Eagles Autism Challenge on Saturday, May 19 to raise funds for innovative research and programs to help unlock the mystery of autism. The Eagles Challenge hopes to inspire and engage the community, so together, we can provide much needed support and make significant progress in diagnosing and treating autism.

The Friday Night Kick-Off Party will feature opening ceremonies will be held for participants.  Saturday, participants will enjoy be bike rides, with 15, 30, or 50-mile cycling routes, or a 5K run/walk to choose from, all beginning at Lincoln Financial Field and ending on the 50-yard line, again with family-friendly entertainment. To become a participant in the Challenge go to eagleschallenge.org

There is even a “virtual participant” option for those unable to participate but who want to make a difference. One hundred percent of participant-raised funds from the Eagles Autism Challenge will go toward autism research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Drexel University and Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health – a coalition devoted to innovative and creative ways to bring additional resources to the field of autism research.

Go Teams!

Vince Del Rossi and employees at Health Mats in Chester are hard at work raising money for the Eagles Autism Challenge. A passionate Eagles fan, and still feeling the adrenaline from the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, Vince jumped on board to help the Eagles help another organization that is near and dear to their hearts. Chadds Ford resident Vince says, “This challenge is important to us and our community as we walk to unlock the mystery of autism.”

According to Kris Smith, Health Mats Marketing Manager and Team Captain, Team Health Mats has a total of 12 members currently and has raised $2,687.00 to date. As a parent of an individual with high functioning autism, Smith has a very personal interest and she writes about why she is walking in this article.

Health Mats encourages you to support Team Health Mats  with a donation or click Eagles Autism Challenge to create your own team!

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About Lora B. Englehart

Lora has a passion for art, gardening, yoga, music and dancing. She continues to research the life of locally born abolitionist and 1998 National Women's Hall of Fame inductee Mary Ann Shadd Cary. She is a dedicated community volunteer, working with the American Association of University Women, Wilmington, DE branch (programs chair), Chadds Ford Historical Society (former board member) and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. Lora lives in Birmingham Township with her husband Bill and son Brad. Daughter Erika lives in Pittsburgh with husband Bob and baby Wilhelmina. She is a former French, Spanish and ESL teacher, bilingual life insurance underwriter and public relations coordinator for Delaware Art Museum and Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art.

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