Autism Fest Provides Opportunity for Disability Awareness Supporters
For the second year in a row, the Silver City Buddy Walk, an annual event in support of people with Down syndrome and other disabilities, has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The same goes for Hoops 4 Hope, the University of Western New Mexico’s annual event which usually takes place in March and brings together student-athletes and community members with special needs for an after-school. lunchtime basketball and relationship building.
“All the parents were too scared because our children with Down’s syndrome have weakened immune systems,” said Vicki Galindo, advocate for the Southwestern New Mexico Arc community. Galindo, who founded the Silver City Buddy Walk in October 2016, has an adult daughter, Jaimie, who was born with Down syndrome 33 years ago and who was also diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
But October is still Down Syndrome Awareness Month and Disability Employment Awareness Month, and a new event was held earlier this month in Santa Clara to support people with spectrum disorders. autistic, which brought together some of the families and friends who usually get together for the Buddy Ride. Galindo said she plans to bring the Buddy Walk back to Gough Park next year.
“People can’t wait to come out, they are offering to help, it will probably happen next year,” said Galindo, adding that she and her daughter were big fans of Autism Fest. “I thought it was wonderful.”
Daniel Fierro and Lilly Aguilera, whose 9-year-old autistic grandson Lorenzo Aguilera is in third grade at Hurley Elementary, saw something that amazed them during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the classes were not held in person.
“It was a blessing!” Lilly said, explaining that her grandson’s schoolwork has improved under the framework schools were forced to adopt during the height of the pandemic. “Lorenzo got so much more attention and individual learning.”
She said she saw her grandson flourish.
“He really got better during the pandemic,” agreed Daniel. “His teacher says he’s completely caught up and is learning at the third grade level. “
“He won the Terrific Kid Award,” Lilly added.
Seeing their autistic grandson succeed and knowing that other Viejitos Car Club members are also autistic in their family, inspired the natives of the mining district, as well as their family and friends, to organize the autism festival, which was held on October 16 in Sainte Claire.
With live music at Viola Stone Park, around 20 food, craft and other vendor vendors, and a busy car show on Fort Bayard Road, the first-ever Autism Fest has raised funds which were donated to Cobre and Silver. School districts.
Lorenzo’s father Daniel Fierro Jr. said Autism Fest could become an annual affair.
“The mayor of Santa Clara is interested,” he said.
Santa Clara resident Robert Padilla helped organize the event.
“It’s all about the children,” he said, adding that the funds are “for the purchase of school equipment to help children with learning disabilities, special programs, field trips – things like that”.
COVID-19 has disrupted aspects of everyone’s life, but for children with disabilities – many of whom benefit from daily routines and schedules more than other children – the pandemic has been particularly difficult.
Maria Perkins said her 14-year-old son Benson, who was born with Down syndrome, “is getting very passionate, very vocal about how much” COVID sucks! “”
Perkins, along with Galindo, started a local chapter of Sun Ambassadors just before COVID-19 turned the world upside down. The specialized dance troupe is still on hiatus.
“I was hoping to restart it, but some of the other families are still hesitant because all of our kids are susceptible to health issues, even with the vaccine,” Perkins said.
“We really tried not to make the pandemic a big deal here, but he would be really scared of it,” she said. “But we have been blessed. My son has always been healthy without the problems associated with Down syndrome. We certainly had him vaccinated as soon as 12-17 year old eligibility opened. “
When the New Mexico Department of Public Education decided to prioritize in-person learning for students with disabilities, it was a godsend, Perkins said.
“Once he got back to school it was good,” she said. “He wears his mask at school, even though he doesn’t like it. Last year, before everyone went back to school, they first took over the disabled classrooms. It was a huge blessing, and kudos to the teachers who made it. It helped him not to be so scared.
According to the New Mexico Autism Society, by 2018, “the prevalence of autism had increased to one in 59 births,” and the estimated support costs associated with the autistic population, as well as autism research, United States amount to nearly $ 90. billion every year.
Silver City Mayor Ken Ladner addressed the festival crowd at Viola Stone Park, sharing his personal experience with children of close relatives born with autism spectrum disorder or intellectual or developmental disabilities.
“Not everyone goes out like us, but that doesn’t make them any less special than us,” said Ladner, recalling one of his sons, who had a chromosomal abnormality and died eight hours after he was born.
People diagnosed with Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, have a chromosomal abnormality – an extra third copy of the 21st chromosome. That’s why March 21 is World Down Syndrome Awareness Day every year: 3-21.
With Down syndrome, Ladner said, “they’re even more special because they have an extra chromosome!”
Galindo told the Daily Press that she is working on a third edition of the “Down Syndrome Buddies and Friends” calendar, a project she started in the first year of the pandemic.
“This is the third year,” said Galindo, a little incredulously that the pandemic has forced the cancellation of so many special events for so many consecutive years.
“And the New Mexico Arc sponsored schedule will be inclusive again this year, so it’s open to people with all disabilities, not just Down syndrome,” Galindo continued, adding that she is currently researching artistic contributions.
Call Galindo at 575-590-7957 for more information. The calendars will go on sale for $ 10 later this year.
Geoffrey Plant can be contacted at [email protected] press.com.