LACONIA — With April being recognized as National Autism Awareness Month, organizers and participants are busy preparing for the annual Autism Center Walkathon, which will be held on Sunday, May 18, in downtown Laconia.
The Walkathon begins and ends at Lakes Region Community Services in downtown Laconia, the home of the Autism Center, on Sunday, May 18, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (registration begins at 9:30). LRCS's main office is located at 719 North Main St. (across from the Laconia Clinic and adjacent to the entrance of the WOW Trail). Participants walk the length of the WOW Trail then turn around and return to LRCS. The route is approximately 3.2 miles.
There is limited parking available on site, but ample parking is available on the street, in municipal lots and across from LRCS at the Laconia Clinic. Please join us and enjoy a brisk walk on a spring day for a great cause.
A unique aspect of the Walkathon is its very special group of sponsors. Every business sponsoring the Walkathon – Kara Financial, Syl Lapierre Masonry, Peanuts Auto, and Right Angle Construction, is connected to a child who has been enrolled in the Autism Center. The Region III Family Support Council, which works with Lakes Region Community Services to support individuals and families receiving services from the agency, is also an event sponsor.
Those wishing to participate can go to www.lrcs.org to register online through Eventbrite. This will let organizers who is coming, their T-shirt size (raise at least $25 and get an official Autism Center T-shirt) and whether they will be attending the lunch following the walk.
The Region III Family Support Council is sponsoring lunch immediately following the Walkathon. There will be grilled hotdogs, snacks and soft drinks.
Walkers can also set up a charitable page through GoFundMe to be able to collect online donations. Visit the www.lrcs.org for instructions on how to set up your own page.
The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that one in 68 children are identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is an increase of 30 percent since 2008.
Jennifer Doris, LRCS's Early Childhood Manager oversees the Autism Center, stresses the importance of early developmental screening and praises New Hampshire's Watch Me Grow developmental screening system.
"Developmental screening is imperative to assisting all children grow and develop as close to their expected milestones as possible," said Doris. "Parents who wish to have their child screened should visit www.watchmegrow.org for more information. Forty-four percent of children identified with ASD were evaluated for developmental concerns by the time they were three years old."
The Autism Center empowers parents to educate, encourage, support and advocate for their child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. In a natural, child-friendly environment, the Autism Center's team teaches parents strategies that they can incorporate into their everyday family routines. The teaching model provides measurable goals and objectives. Staff works with each family to meet its specific needs.
"One of the best parts about being involved with the Autism Center for families is not only the support they receive from staff, but the opportunity they have to connect with other families who have similar needs and experiences."
For hundreds of families living in the Lakes Region each year, the Family Resource Center of Central New Hampshire, a program of LRCS, offers education and support to help families meet basic needs, keep children safe, and make positive connections. The Family Resource Center believes strong families lead to strong communities. Lakes Region Community Services (LRCS) is a nonprofit, comprehensive family support agency with a primary focus of providing supports to individuals with developmental disabilities and/or acquired brain disorders and their families. A dynamic human services organization, LRCS offers other essential and critical services to individuals in the Lakes Region from birth throughout their lifespan. At the core of LRCS' work are inclusion, acceptance, and building strengths and partnerships – whether at the individual, family or community level.