There are a series of events scheduled to raise awareness of autism and celebrate the accomplishments of those who have it.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The local agencies that serve individuals with autism don't want to just raise awareness in April. They want to celebrate what those individuals bring to the community.
On Friday night at AdLib, the College Internship Program. Glee Club showed that off. The club took to the front of the room to sing songs and play guitar.
Next to them was a display and pieces of artwork created by local residents with autism — a tie in with the First Friday Art Walk program the city runs.
Later in the month, there will be gymnastics, yoga, support groups, and conferences. All of it is part of April being Autism Awareness month.
"Autism is important enough that it deserves monthlong of activities," said Allison Billard, the program director at the Housatonic Academy, Hillcrest Educational's therapeutic day school.
The local GO BLUE campaign is a collaborative effort of autism services providers Hillcrest Educational Foundation, College Internship Program, AdLib, Autism Connections, Berkshire County Arc, and UCP of Berkshire County, with assistance from Downtown Pittsfield Inc. and First Fridays Artswalk. It involved a whole slate of events intended to celebrate those with autism and connect with the community.
Locally, Hillcrest started celebrating the month by lighting Park Square up blue two years ago. Both City Hall and Park Square featured blue lights, as places throughout the world do. Last year, Hillcrest branched out and put together a resource fair with other agencies. Meanwhile, businesses downtown joined the effort in lighting up their storefronts.
"This is the third event I've been involved in. In 2015, our autism awareness event started very small. It was something Hillcrest organized, we did a nice little celebratory event in Park Square. Last year, we decided to expand on how it started and we got a couple other agencies involved," Billard said.
This year the Go Blue campaign has expanded again. A letter went out again asking downtown businesses to light up their storefronts blue for the month.
"All of the agencies, we do so much with each other to respond to the needs of families and individuals with disabilities and autism," said Berkshire County Arc Chief Operations Officer Maryann Hyatt.
That relationship between the various agencies is about to get even closer.
Behavioral Specialist Supervisor for BC Arc Sopheap Nhim said there is a lot of resources for families and individuals with autism, but often families don't necessarily know where to go to access each service.
"We thought it would be great to form this group. We are a group of providers committed to connecting the community with resources and our goal is to better streamline our services through collaborations with other agencies," Nhim said.
The Autism Collaborative of Berkshire County is the next logical step. Next Friday, various organizations will come together for the first time to look at how they can more closely align. The first step is for all of the services and material to be compiled into a single packet of information for families. From there the organizations will consider ways to help provide the services better.
"The collaboration efforts that have gone on until this point is small compared to where we are going to go as time goes on," said Hillcrest President Jerry Burke said. "It is all about trying to make sure the needs of the community are met and we clearly have a wealth of talent in all different aspects of disabilities."
At the end of April, a rally will be held in Park Square on April 28. That will cap off the month of programming and promote the accomplishments of individuals with autism.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Comments are closed for this article. If you would like to contribute information on this article, e-mail us at info@iBerkshires.com
Pittsfield 12-Year-Olds Earn Walkoff Win in Little League Sectional
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Dave Wildgoose ripped a single up the middle in the bottom of the sixth to score Anthony Hill Friday and give the Pittsfield Little League American Division All-Stars a 5-4, come-from-behind win over Agawam in the 12-year-old sectional tournament.
Cam Harrington and Mitch Hall each singled in the seventh-inning rally, which started with the visitors clinging to a 4-3 lead at Deming Park.
"I just tell them to stay confident," Pittsfield manager Matt Stracuzzi said. "We're a confident team, and I just keep preaching to those guys: Just be confident. Don't get down on yourselves.
"Just because we're down a run or two, it doesn't mean this game is over."
Wetland issues have derailed planned improvements to Pontsoosuc Lake Park.
The Friends of Pontoosuc Lake received $15,000 from the Community Preservation Act with the intent to restore the beach on the Hancock Road side. The city's Parks, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager Jim... click for more
When two men came whipping into the city with police on their tail in March, residents didn't see Pittsfield Police officers hanging out the window shooting their guns off trying to blow out the tires. That only happens in movies.
In fact, residents didn't see Pittsfield Police on the suspect's... click for more
In other business, the Berkshire Innovation Center is on pace for an October opening. The research and development center broke ground in September and now has a new executive director on board in Ben Sosne.
click for more
Keep it simple.
That's what Edward Carmel believes. But he doesn't believe the current City Council is doing that. He feels the council spins its wheels tinkering with things and not accomplishing anything. click for more