World Autism Awareness Day: Park City style

PARK CITY, Utah. — Today is World Autism Awareness Day. The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonia Guterres said in a statement, “While people join hands to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, a key goal must also be to ensure a more inclusive and accessible environment recognizing the contributions of everyone, including people with disabilities.” The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one in 54 children in the United States is affected by autism.

What autism awareness looks like in Park City is this:

  • The National Ability Center (NAC) providing programming such as its COACH Internship pilot program. COACH stands for Creating Opportunities for ACHievement. It’s designed for people 16-22 years old with a disability to work as interns  at the NAC, assisting in the day-to-day responsibilities of running a complex, busy nonprofit while supervised by staff. NAC internship applications can be completed here.
  • The Park City School District supporting inclusive classrooms and curriculum with one-on-one supervision, when warranted, within the school at large and alongside the student body. Students affected by autism enjoy adaptive recess, allowing for supervised outdoor activities such as rollerblading or hiking around adjacent trails if it’ll make a student in the Special Education Department’s day better
  • Temple Har Shalom creating space for a companion dog to accompany a member of its congregation while attending religious services
  • Fresh Market and Walmart modeling community acceptance as they welcome students from the Park City School District when they shop together as a class
  • Families like the Olsens normalizing life by showing their five-year-old son Rhett all the fun and goodness that his community has to offer, including skiing with his family at Deer Valley Resort. Rhett’s dad Kris grew up in Park City and appreciates how his town wraps its collective arms around diversity and makes running a business since 1983  (Olsen Electric) simpler through the teamwork of for-profits’ and nonprofits’ care and commitments 
    Rhett Olsen's (silver helmet, standing in front of his dad) extended family. Photo: Lori Olsen
    Rhett Olsen’s (silver helmet, standing in front of his dad) extended family. Photo: Lori Olsen
    One day of countless many that made Rhett Olsen's mom Lori cry happy tears
    One day of countless many that made Rhett Olsen’s mom Lori cry happy tears

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