Community gathers for World Autism Day event aimed at promoting acceptance and inclusion

April 6, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

The importance of supporting and accepting people with autism was recently highlighted in Orangeville ahead of World Autism Awareness Day.

Members of council, Dufferin–Caledon MP Kyle Seeback and parents of children with autism gathered to raise the Autism Ontario flag at Town Hall Friday (Mar. 31). Mayor Lisa Post read a proclamation officially recognizing World Autism Day in the Town of Orangeville and urged residents to create a more inclusive world for people with autism.

After Posts’ remarks, the new 2023 Autism Speaks Canada (ASC) Walk ambassador, Tyler Clinch, who’s in Grade 5, shared his excitement to lead the walk, which takes place at Fendley Park on Sept. 24. He’s been to the event for the past several years and says it feels good to be chosen as this year’s ambassador.

“I’ve been attending for a long time, so I was hoping eventually I would get to do it,” said Tyler. 

In speaking with the Citizen, he noted the importance of inclusion, a key message he promotes as ASC Walk ambassador.

“If someone has a disability or autism or something like that, don’t not accept them because of that,” he said. “Accept them, accept everyone, even if they have autism.”

Tania Ferreira, Tyler’s mom, said World Autism Day is an important event to the local autism community for not only raising awareness but promoting respect and understanding.

“Simple acts of raising a flag and support of spreading awareness gives us hope for an inclusive future,” she said. “Creating an inclusive community begins with education, which is what we’re all here for today, to educate the masses about autism.”

Fellow autism parent Jessica Di Cintio works with autistic people in residential care at Kerry’s Place in Orangeville. Being so involved in the autism community, she said events like the flag raising at Town Hall are essential for building awareness and mean a lot to her as a parent. 

“From a social perspective, I think it’s important for other people to understand autism as a spectrum itself, that there is a very unique presentation of it so that we build tolerance and acceptance to people who might be different,” said Di Cintio. “As well as understanding how to approach and create social friendships with those that might need different types of support.”

Mayor Post shared in her proclamation of World Autism Day that autism affects over 135,000 Ontarians and one in every 66 children.

She had a brief chat with Tyler following the proclamation and said she was impressed with his enthusiasm.

“Tyler’s a fantastic young man, and he spoke very passionately about the importance of the [ASC] Walk and why it’s important to be with us today,” she noted. “You could tell from the group that was here today that it’s an important event in our community, and it was really important to see Tyler there, speaking up on behalf of the autism community.”

Mayor Post added, “I think he’s going to be a fantastic ambassador for this year’s walk.”

A different ambassador is selected each year to promote the walk, lead it, and share their autism story.

“It’s a really cool way to be able to highlight some of the kids and really be able to tell their stories,” Mayor Post said. “They all have very unique and different stories and being able to see the spectrum, I think is a really important component for our community.”

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