Champions for Charity 2018

The North Pole Middle School Community joined together from early February to early March for the 6th Annual Champions for Charity Tournament.  Champions for Charity is a fundraising competition that started six years ago as a way to honor a student tragically lost in an accident. Including this year’s donations, C4C will have donated over $59,000 to locally tied nonprofit organizations.

This year twelve teams of staff and students raised $18,100 for the local nonprofit organizations of their choice.  The team “Algebros” chose to represent the Autism Society of Alaska and in one month, they raised $1428.

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Danielle Tessen, ASA’s executive director attended an assembly at  North Pole Middle School on Tuesday, May 1st. She had a chance to meet the team of students who raised money for ASA.   Then at the assembly she had a chance speak to the student body about our organization and how the money students raised will be used. “I loved that they invited me out to talk about autism and the team was so accepting and kind. It was such a blessing to experience,” expressed Danielle Tessen.

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Sensory Friendly Jump Time

On March 31, 2018 the Autism Society of Alaska partnered with FLY Trampoline Park in Fairbanks to provide a sensory friendly jump time. The event was full of smiles, laughter, and of course jumping. Parents made sure not to let the children have all of the fun.

FLY opened an hour early to accommodate the sensory needs of the jumpers. The number of attendees was kept low, and the music was turned off. The staff went above and beyond. They were helpful, friendly, and played too. There was even a surprise visitor that showed up… The Easter Bunny! It is amazing what can happen when organizations partner and set up accommodations.

If you’d like to help fund programs such as this, register and donate to our 10th Annual Alaska 5k for Autism at asagoldenheart.org. We need YOUR help!

This presentation was brought by the Autism Society of Alaska’s Community Enrichment program. This program was created to solve some of the community’s most common requests, access to information about networking with other families and leisure activities for individuals with autism. The Autism Society of Alaska (A.S.A) partners with local businesses to provide leisure opportunities to those who experience autism, while also providing networking, socializing, and referral services to the whole family. A.S.A. also hosts community presentations and workshops on a range of topics affecting individuals with autism.

Want to learn more about the Autism Society of Alaska Community Enrichment Program? Visit A.S.A’s website to see more events to come.

Building Communication for Teens with Autism

The Autism Society of Alaska Partnered with Hope Counseling Center to present a hands-on workshop: “Building Communication for Improved Listening and Compliance in Adolescents and Teens who Experience Autism.”

On Thursday, March 22, 2018, the Autism Society of Alaska Partnered with Hope Counseling Center to present a hands-on workshop: “Building Communication for Improved Listening and Compliance in Adolescents and Teens who Experience Autism.” It was presented by two therapists for Hope Counseling,  Matthew Sena, MA LPC, the Clinical Director and Kylie Gore-Hall, MS at the Autism Society of Alaska Office.

During this workshop, professionals, parents, and individuals participated in activities that offered firsthand knowledge to the difficulties adolescents and teens who experience autism might encounter while conversing. Participants partnered up and acted out different scenarios. Here they learned many skills, strategies, and tips:

  • Communication involves a speaker, a listener, and a message
  • What each role entails
  • How to minimize distractions
  • The importance of paraphrasing and more

Everyone left with tools to help build the listening skills of not only their child or clients but also themselves. All of this was achieved in a comforting environment full of conversation and networking.

This presentation was brought by the Autism Society of Alaska’s Community Enrichment program. This program was created to solve some of the community’s most common requests, access to information about networking with other families and leisure activities for individuals with autism. The Autism Society of Alaska (A.S.A) partners with local businesses to provide leisure opportunities to those who experience autism, while also providing networking, socializing, and referral services to the whole family. A.S.A. also hosts community presentations and workshops on a range of topics affecting individuals with autism.

Want to learn more about the Autism Society of Alaska Community Enrichment Program? Visit A.S.A’s website to see more events to come.

For more information on Hope Counseling Center and the services they offer, check out their website.

Helping Has No Age Requirement

A couple months ago, we were reminded that working with ASA can be done in any capacity. Whether you are an individual or group of any age, you can help us. Recently we were contacted by Jonathon Putnam, a 9th grader at NPHS. He chose The Autism Society of Alaska for his Boy Scouts Eagle Scout group project. He made and donated fidget spinners. Putnam stated he did this because, “I thought it would be a fun project. I have a lot of friends who either have autism or have siblings that do.” We love seeing the generosity of the younger generation in our community.

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If you are interested in helping, but not sure how. Reach out to us. You can offer your skills and time in any capacity, big or small. It takes many types of talents. Think about the CHANGE you can make with your SKILLS!
Autism907@gmail.com

North Pole Champions for Charity

North Pole Middle School Champions for Charity, also known as C4C, is  a month long fundraising event involving teams competing to raise money for their chosen charity. In its first five years, this school has made over $41,000 in donations to 30 charities and nonprofits with ties to their students and Interior Alaska.

One of the teams, The Algebros, has chosen to raise funds for the Autism Society of Alaska. We recently visited and discussed autism with them. They are quite educated on why ASA exists and driven to make a difference. They will hold a Bingo Family Night on February 21st and the McHenryball Tournament on February 27th. Both events will be held at North Pole Middle School and will help them raise funds for all charities, including ASA.

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North Pole Middle School presenting ASA with a check in 2016

North Pole Middle School’s Champions for Charity was born from their annual McHenryball Fundraiser. This was played in honor of NPMS students who had died in tragic accidents.  Funds raised were donated to charities and nonprofit organizations that were important to those students. Following years were focused on donating the earnings to nonprofits and charities with local ties to Interior Alaska. 2016 brought expansion to the program. C4C is now a month long fundraising event that runs from mid-February through mid-March. The program includes three fundraising events, a Valentine’s Social for students only, and two community events: a fun filled family night and the annual McHenryball Tournament.

C4C teams include up to 14 members: A maximum of 6 boys, 6 girls, and two staff. Teams form in January and begin their planning and fundraising.

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The team with with most points at the end of the C4C month will be crowned the Champions for Charity.

 

For more information visit: https://npmsc4c.weebly.com

Autism Society of America President/CEO Visits Alaska

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Last week, Scott Badesch, the President and CEO of the Autism Society of America, braved the negative temperatures to come visit Alaska. His advice and guidance are invaluable as the Autism Society of Alaska embraces growth and change during strategic planning.

We enjoyed sharing with him some fun information about our great community such as plugging in vehicles and moose sightings.

Here are a couple comments that made us smile:

“The kids actually go outside for recess in this weather?”

“Won’t someone take your car if it’s auto started?”

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We appreciate Badesch and local Fairbanks Mayor, Jim Matherly, for taking the time to sit down with us and discuss ways we can better reach out to those in our community and across the state.  We love serving the state of Alaska and helping with the unique challenges our community faces.

Please reach out if you are interested in joining us on this journey. You can offer your skills and time in any capacity, big or small.
Autism907@gmail.com

Also consider making a donation to help support autism education, awareness, advocacy, research, and most importantly, enable us to assist families living with autism.

http://www.asagoldenheart.org/donate

Sensory Santa 2017

On December 2nd, 2017, the Autism Society of Alaska hosted their 4th annual Sensory Santa event.

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By: Denys Collins

On December 2nd, 2017, the Autism Society of Alaska hosted their 4th annual Sensory Santa event. This provided families with children on all spectrums of special needs, a more controlled and welcoming environment to visit with Father Christmas. Simple adjustments were made to reduce sensory stimuli  and to create a calming environment.

It is December, and the holiday season is in full swing. The trees are being set up and the gifts are being purchased. In malls across the country many children are lining up to tell Santa their Christmas wish list, but for some this tradition does not come easily.  For many with autism and sensory processing disorders, visiting Santa can be difficult. The problems are not all on Santa though, many of the issues lie in all that comes with him. These meetings usually take place in busy places with long crowded lines, loud music, and bright lights. This process can be uncomfortable for many children and for those with special needs, it can quickly become unbearable. The Autism Society of Alaska has joined many other communities by offering sensory friendly Santa experiences each year.

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Last weekend, we held our 4th annual sensory Santa event.   We allowed all families to have the opportunity to get their picture taken with Father Christmas. This year we utilized time slots to manage the flow of traffic more effectively and reduce the need to wait. Families were greeted in our waiting area with dim Christmas lights, the light smell of cinnamon, and morning snacks. Children were able to make their own ornament to take home or play with provided toys such as trains and a light table. For those that needed a space to get away, a tent with a sound machine and pillows was provided. Many children were more than content just to play with the trains and eat cinnamon rolls.

Once they were ready, families were brought back to a separate room to meet Santa. Our Father Christmas is a kind gentle man that quickly soothes children with his soft voice in a separate room.  Being a grandfather himself, he has knowledge of the commonly asked for items which children love.  Every family is allowed time to get comfortable with Santa with no pressure to rush.  We were very lucky this year to have an amazing photographer volunteer his time and talent and capture the special memory for families.

The holiday season is a special time and no child should be left out of family traditions. The Autism Society of Alaska loves being able to offer the Santa experience with a few accommodations to make it accessible for all children. We are thankful for our title sponsor, Greer Tank and Welding; our helper “elves,” our photographer, Brian Schlumbohm; our Santa and his wife, George and Amy Viltrakis; and all of our attendees for letting us share this special day with them.