World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, and our FLEX participant, Dina Piponski, currently participating in FLEX Serbia 2016-17 program in Greenfield, Ohio, decided to organize a volunteering project dedicated to this cause.
About 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder (CDC, 2014). Prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births (CDC, 2014). More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder (Buescher et al., 2014). Prevalence of autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68) (CDC, 2014). Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. (CDC, 2008)
(the information taken from the website: http://www.autism-society.org)
Dina, together with her three friends, the school principle and her host mom, organized a bake sale at McClain High School on April 3rd, 4th and 5th to raise money and donate it to the cause of raising awareness about this condition in the United States.
Dina previously made contact with Autism Speaks organization, and it was agreed that all the money raised at the fundraising event at McClain high school in Greenfield, Ohio, is donated to this organization. Autism Speaks sponsors autism research and conducts awareness and outreach activities aimed at families, governments, and the public. They are dedicated to advancing research into causes and better treatments for autism spectrum disorders and related conditions both through direct funding and collaboration; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorders; and working toward solutions for the needs of individuals with autism and their families across the spectrum and lifespan through advocacy and support.
Their original goal was to raise $500, and in the spirit of Autism Awareness Day Dina made a huge 5×5 puzzle in her art class.
This is what Dina wrote about her experience:
“Leading such a big project is so hard. I learned that I can’t always satisfy everyone, and that I have to be patient with people. If I have a problem or a bad day, I have to find a way to deal with it and not let it interfere with my work. It was a lot of hard work and organization, but it was all worth it. This was by far my favorite experience in this exchange year. I have never felt so fulfilled and amazing to do something this big and great for other people. I loved every part of it! Thank you for helping me through everything that led up to me being here this year. I’ll remember it forever”.