What is Project Autism?
Project Autism Canada is a grassroots, community-driven organization that is dedicated to increasing public awareness, building positive acceptance and providing vital community support and education programs for those living with, and affected by, the vast Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Our focus is, and always has been, on the children and young adults, no matter the label. We are made up of families, friends and supporters dedicated to increasing public awareness through education, advocacy and support. Project Autism is 100 per cent volunteer run and we strive to constantly create new partnerships with local business and individuals to build a better and more understanding autism community. It’s through our dedicated and caring volunteers that our programs are possible.
As a grassroots organization that operates within a non-profitable mandate, we believe there are already too many charities using donor funds for activities that do very little to actually help those directly affected by ASD. At Project Autism Canada, our goal is to have all funds channelled directly into the community for the programs, therapies and workshops that are so desperately needed. We can achieve this by working together and encouraging growth, acceptance and opportunities for all children, young adults and adults with disabilities.
Since our inception in 2013, Project Autism has taken giant leaps forward in terms of mending our fractured disability community, creating a supportive network for families, youth and adults on the spectrum. We are proud to offer both online and real life events, opportunities and experiences where people can talk, share information and resources, vent their frustrations, brainstorm, laugh, problem solve and raise concerns that directly affect and impact their families and daily lives.
We offer much needed community support, education programs, sport programs, workshops, parent education, drumming therapy and awareness and advocacy initiatives. Past and current activities include: soccer; swimming; karate; “I Can” programs to increase social interaction, learning and development; Education 4 All workshops to help navigate the school system and barriers to education; The Stand Proud project to support anti-bullying initiatives; and community speakers and outings to open doors and enrich the lives of those with ASD and other disabilities.
We understand the impact of not properly treating, or identifying disabilities such as Autism. It fractures families, divides communities, and reaches over many political silos; from education and health care to correctional services and human resources – Autism Spectrum Disorder has a huge and often negative impact in our society. Financial drain on families looking for resources and support and a society struggling to deal with and understand these issues is another impact that can create a massive loss in the success and development of future generations. This is why we believe community grassroots action and advocacy is the answer.
What is a grassroots organization?
A grassroots initiative implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures.
Grassroots initiatives are often driven at a local level but has no limitations and can span across the globe. It is normally comprised of like-minded individuals who have very similar goals and objectives united under a common mission to champion a cause close to them.
Now, the question is, what would you like this grassroots initiative to accomplish?
What are Project Autism’s long term goals?
One of Project Autism’s long-term goals is to create nation-wide, inclusive community with government support and stable funding. Connecting our associations, organizations, and charities is a vital element on so many levels as the disorder spans across local, provincial and federal boundaries and is a chronic health issue that requires ongoing and long-term support and resources. It is imperative to engage our community members to play a role and to provide a voice to the myriad issues affecting those living with, or affected by Autism. Who better to advise on where funds should be directed than those living with it day in, and day out. Engaging people with the most need, knowledge and understanding of the direct impact of this disorder on boards within organizations, associations and agencies will help informed decision-making, accountability and will bring about positive change that has immediate results, creating jobs, opportunities, and much needed changes to our society.
In just five and a half years, Project Autism has achieved a solid track-record of success and has credibility with community organizations, doctors, educators and policy decision makers. Now it is our time to ramp up and take our advocacy and awareness messages and community support and education programs to a higher level.
In order to advance the issue and ensure Autism Spectrum Disorder is appropriately recognized, treated and resourced, it is necessary to launch a communications and advocacy/awareness strategy. While advocacy is the goal, communication and awareness must take place before or at the same time so that the issues and messages being directed to the various levels of government and the agencies they support, will be received. Part of the education and awareness campaign is to deal with perception issues around what ASD is and how it can be treated and managed. A goal of Project Autism is to reduce the stigma and fear around ASD, raise awareness and advocate about the lack of services, the inequality of treatment across Canada and the issues and problems associated within the education system.