Inaugural Emma’s Way Walk, advocating for autism, held in Lions Park 

August 24, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

The Inaugural Emma’s Way Walk came to Orangeville on Saturday (Aug. 19), raising acceptance and awareness for the autistic community locally.

The 2.5km walk started at Lions Park, where various activities geared towards children were enjoyed.

Approximately 30 people attended the walk, showing solidarity for those with autism and raising money for Autism Ontario, which supports families and individuals affected by autism. The final fundraising numbers are still being tallied, but walk organizer Patti Thomas said those who attended and online supporters were generous with their donations.

Thomas’ daughter Emma has autism, and she led the walk through Orangeville.

“Emma had a great day at the walk,” said Thomas. “She was able to meet some new friends and loved having community members walk with her and her family in support of Emma’s Way to raise money for Autism Ontario.”

Thomas said she hopes to make the walk annual to continue raising awareness and acceptance for people with autism.

“The main message we were hoping to spread through the walk was ‘autism doesn’t define Emma, Emma defines Autism,’” she remarked. “We wanted to show acceptance and awareness for the neurodiverse population in our community. Providing events like this at the forefront will provide our community with education and knowledge with regards to the autistic community.”

Going forward, Thomas said she plans on coordinating other events in the community to fundraise for autism support.

She told the Citizen advocacy is incredibly important to get people with autism the services and care they need to thrive.

“I advocate for the Autism community because I see the lack of representation with autistics and their voices not being heard or prioritized with decision making… We must do whatever we can to amplify autistic voices, correct misconceptions and spread the real truth about autism,” said Thomas.

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