/Tag: Autism

Free Events in Traverse City to Celebrate Autism

Traverse Traveler is proud to announce several free events this week to celebrate autism, promote awareness, and raise money to purchase iPads for students with autism in the Traverse City community.

This year we have once again teamed up with the Northwest Michigan Autism Resource Network (ARN) to bring three free events to the Traverse City community.

April 21: Free Film at The State Theatre  |  6 pm

All community members are invited to a free screening of the brand new 2015 documentary, How to Dance in Ohio at the State Theatre. This film has been well received on the film festival circut and will make its debut at The State for our event. The documentary follows a group of teens with autism who spend 12 weeks preparing for a typical teenage rite of passage: a spring formal. Learn how these students tackle the social skills needed to ask someone on a date, invite them to dance and explore the complex world of social dynamics. More information about the film here.

April 24: Light up the Lanes at Lucky Jacks  |  4-7 pm

Families of children with autism are invited to join us for a special party at Lucky Jack’s on Garfield Ave where we will Light up the Lanes in their honor. We’ve planned an evening of fun and games including free bowling, treats, and activities. The eight-lane, private 300 Club at Lucky Jack’s as well as the adjacent party room will be reserved for this special event. This is an open house event with no reservations required.

April 25: Sensory-friendly Film at The Bijou  |  10:30 am

Sound and light levels will be moderated for this free showing at The Bijou in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Children of all ages will enjoy Rio2, while parents relax knowing that if they get a little loud, or need to get up and move, it’s OK.

Supporting Autism in our Community

Traverse Traveler remains committed to our mission of building awareness about autism, and fundraising to support children with autism in our local schools. In the last three years we have raised over $27,000 and purchased 52 iPads for students with autism in the Traverse City area public schools and T.B.A.I.S.D. We are grateful for the support of our sponsors and donors. If you would like more information about donating or supporting students with autism in our schools please feel free to email brandy@visitorsmedia.com.

By |2018-09-12T13:20:13+00:00April 20th, 2015|Events, Family Fun|0 Comments

Celebrate Autism with Free Events in Traverse City

Traverse Traveler is proud to announce several free events this April to celebrate autism, promote awareness, and raise money to purchase iPads for students with autism in our community.

This year we have teamed up with the Northwest Michigan Autism Resource Network (ARN) to bring four free events to the Traverse City community.

April 4: Light up the Lanes at Lucky Jacks  |  4-7 pm

To kick-off Autism Awareness month we’re inviting families of children with autism to a special party at Lucky Jack’s on Garfield Ave where we will “Light it up Blue” in their honor. We’ve planned an evening of fun and games including free bowling, treats, and activities. The eight-lane, private 300 Club at Lucky Jack’s as well as the adjacent party room will be reserved for this special event.

April 14: Film and panel discussion at Bijou by the Bay  |  6 pm

All community members are invited to a free screening of the 2009 documentary, The Horse Boy at the Bijou by the Bay theater. This hit on the film festival circuit chronicles the journey of the Isaacson family as they travel to Mongolia hoping to find a nomadic shaman to heal their five-year-old son’s autism. A moderated panel discussion will follow the movie, offering the community a place to ask questions, dispel myths and learn about how autism affects people in the Grand Traverse area.

April 16: ARN monthly speaker  |  6:30 pm

Karin Chandler, founder of Life Solutions for Autism, will speak on developing a childs skills to enable independence at the regular ARN monthly parent support group meeting. Advocating for and Empowering Children with Autism will be presented at Munson Medical Center room 11 (lower level).

April 27: Sensory-friendly film at The State  |  10 am

Sound and light levels will be moderated for this free showing of one of Thomas the Tank Engines feature-length adventures. Children of all ages will enjoy Thomas & Friends: Misty Island Rescue, while parents relax knowing that if they get a little loud, or need to get up and move, it’s OK.

Donating to iPads for Autism

Traverse Traveler remains committed to our mission of raising funds to help children with autism in our local schools. In the last two years we have raised over $25,000 and purchased 47 iPads for TCAPS students with autism as a partner in education. This year we will continue to raise money for ipads through voluntary donations collected at all events.

Walgreens

In addition, we’re thrilled to announce all four Traverse City area Walgreens stores will collect donations for iPads for autism throughout the month of April.

By |2018-09-12T13:20:14+00:00March 28th, 2014|Events, Family Fun|0 Comments

"Light it up Blue" for Autism Awareness April 2 in Downtown Traverse City

 

Join us as we “Light It Up Blue” a World Autism Awareness Day, family-friendly event in downtown Traverse City on Tuesday, April 2.

Light It Up Blue begins at 6 p.m. April 2 at ECCO, 121 E. Front St., with food and fun activities with a blue theme. Glowing luminaries will be available for purchase for $5, with proceeds to benefit the Traverse City Area Public Schools iPads for Autism program.

Downtown merchants are encouraged to decorate their storefronts in blue in honor of the event. At 7:30 p.m. participants will carry the luminaries along Front Street to the Open Space. At the Open Space, participants will place the blue glowing lanterns in the shape of a puzzle piece, another symbol of autism. The event will be captured on video and an overhead photo with the community will be taken to show Traverse City’s participation in “Light it up Blue.”

Blue luminaries are available for purchase in advance at Old Mission Traders, 215 E. Front St.

If you live in the Traverse City area we encourage you to come down for this fun event. But even if you can’t we encourage everyone to Light it up Blue whereever you are. Here’s what you can do:

  • Wear blue clothing, nail polish even hair paint
  • Turn your porch light blue with a bulb from Home Depot. Special bulbs are for sale with proceeds to benefit Autism Speaks
  • Decorate your door, your yard or your desk in blue or with puzzle pieces, the symbol of Autism

 

World Autism Awareness Day logoLight It Up Blue is a worldwide event in which participants seek to light prominent landmarks blue to help raise awareness of autism, a developmental disorder now estimated to affect one in 50 children. In Michigan, the Mackinac Bridge will be lit blue on April 2. Other prominent buildings have included the Empire State Building in New York City and the CN Tower in Canada.

In Traverse City, Light It Up Blue is organized by the Scavenger Hunt for Autism, a fundraising event set for April 13 that will also benefit TCAPS’ iPads for Autism Program.

“We’re excited to add this prelude event this year to further increase autism awareness,” Scavenger Hunt founder Brandy Wheeler said. “Kids, parents, grandparents and community members of all ages in between are invited to help make the Open Space as blue as the bay.”

For more information on Light it up Blue or the Scavenger Hunt for Autism on April 13 visit www.traversetraveler.com/autism or find us on Facebook
 

By |2013-03-28T06:41:27+00:00March 28th, 2013|Events, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler Buys 13 iPads for Students with Autism

Scavenger Hunt for Autism LogoScavenger Hunt for Autism iPads

Brandy Wheeler, creator of the Traverse Traveler app and owner of Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas, purchased 13 iPads with the proceeds from the first-annual Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism. The iPads have been donated to Traverse City Area Public Schools for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

 

Last April, eighty-four teams took to the streets of downtown Traverse City for the inaugural Scavenger Hunt for Autism. Teams used the Traverse Traveler app and a QR code reader to discover downtown businesses, check-in and unlock a clue for an activity at each location. Volunteers stationed at every venue assisted with the on-site challenge, and handed out prize tickets. Participants encountered puzzles and games that challenged their brains, their sense of direction, and teamwork.

iPad image

The event was a fundraiser for the iPads for Autism program at Traverse City Area Public Schools, a pilot program started in 2011 which provided iPads for 9 students at TCAPS with Autism Spectrum Disorder. To grow this program and meet the needs of their 120 students with autism, Traverse Traveler joined TCAPS Partner in Education program.

 

The Scavenger Hunt drew participation from a diverse crowd of 337 participants including families, educators, children with autism and disabled adults as well as community members from as far as Petoskey.

 

The fundraiser generated donations from event sponsors, team registrations and private donors and raised over $14,700 for the iPads for Autism Program. More than $9000 was donated directly to TCAPS through the Partner in Education program. Over the summer TCAPS added 6 iPads and purchased app packages designed to meet the specific needs of students with Autism. The iPads will help grow a lending library to expedite student assessment, trial different applications and assign devices more quickly.

 

As part of the licensing agreement with retailers schools are required to purchase Apple products directly from Apple. But event founder Brandy Wheeler wanted to show support for the local businesses. “This event wouldn’t be possible without the support of our business community. I’m thrilled that we can purchase our iPads locally from CityMac and donate them to TCAPS to grow the iPads for Autism program.”

 

The positive response from event participants and venues, combined with the commitment from title sponsor Lucky Jack’s, has event organizers already planning for next year. For more information on the Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism and to find out how you can volunteer visit TraverseTraveler.com/Autism or find them on Facebook.

 

Photo:  Brandy Wheeler from Traverse Traveler and Jame McCall, Special Education Director at Traverse City Area Public Schools gathered today at CityMac for the iPad purchase. They were joined by members of the Scavenger Hunt for Autism committee including Jamie Roster, Kathy DiMercurio, Kate Daggett and Nick Nerbonne, and event sponsors Mike Mohrhardt of Lucky Jacks, Josh Russell of Jimmy Johns and Greg Nickerson from CityMac.

 

By |2012-09-27T13:39:11+00:00September 27th, 2012|Mealtickets News, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Why I Celebrate Autism Awareness Month

April 2nd is World Autism Awarenss Day. It’s a day to recognize, celebrate and show your support for the Autism community. I’ve been celebrating for the last 5 years by sharing information about autism on my personal blog, through social media, and by donating to Autism Speaks. This year I decided it was time to do something bigger. I have a mission to support the autism community in Traverse City, Michigan by putting iPads in the hands of every TCAPS student with Autism.

Today, I hope to Light it up Blue by sharing my story, and my goals.

— Brandy Wheeler

This article was first published by the wonderful ladies at Grand Traverse Woman. You can pick up their March/April 2012 print edition on newstands now.

 

Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism

Autism is a puzzle. We can’t figure out what causes it. There is no "cure" because it’s not a disease. And it’s affecting an alarming number of children and adults. New studies report 1 in 88 children will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. So what can we do about it?
 
I ask myself that question everyday. I am a mom. My 9-year-old son has Autism. That diagnosis filled me with heart-breaking fears of what his life, and ours, was going to be like now that the A-bomb had been dropped upon us.
 
He was three when we had him evaluated by the school district and the results were clear. Autism. He didn’t make a lot of eye contact, was nowhere near ready to potty train, and had never once said, "I love you, mom." But he was smart. So smart. He memorized jingles on TV and would sing them as we drove past the business. From the backseat I’d hear, "Ba-da, ba-ba-ba, I’m lovin’ it!" as we cruised by McDonalds, followed by, "Higher standards, lower prices," when Meijer came into view. He taught himself to read at the age of three, but still doesn’t know how to tie his shoes. In kindergarten he made a map of the United States out of Play-Doh from memory and could answer Presidential trivia faster than a Jeopardy champion. But if I buy the wrong kind of macaroni and cheese, he won’t eat it. The slightest changes in classroom routine could bring him to tears. Simply understanding that when a friend says, "hello" in the hallway you should look up and say hello in response, doesn’t even occur to him.
 
So how do we, as parents, and community members, reach out and try to connect with these children that are silently struggling to navigate in this world that is so foreign to them? We play to their strengths, and accept their weaknesses.
 
One of my goals, from the time my son was diagnosed, has been to increase autism awareness. It’s challenging, because Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means there are extreme variations in behaviors and capabilities of children with this diagnosis. Some are unable to communicate verbally, some have sensitivities to light and sound and touch. Some children have learning disabilities and may be prone to violence, while others appear typical and perform off-the-charts on achievement. But there are similarities as well. The characteristic that draws my attention is their fascination with technology.
 
Autistic Student with iPadChildren with Autism are drawn to technology like flies to a picnic. Television, video games, computers, smartphones and now the iPad offer endless fascination and attraction. While we’ve all heard the warnings about the dangers of too much screen time, I don’t think we’ve given enough credit to the benefits for children with certain disabilities. Here technology can be a conduit through which we can communicate like never before. And it’s working.
 
Autism app on iPadSchools across the Country are beginning to use iPads as a tool for communication and learning for their students with Autism. Each iPad is assigned to a specific student, and loaded with apps that cater to their individual needs. There are communication apps like Proloque2go which help non-verbal students form sentences on the screen with a drag-and-drop motion then turn text-to-speech. There are visual schedules which allow teachers to replace bulky velcro picture boards that took up the full backside of a classroom door and give the independence and privacy back to the students. There are apps for building social skills by practicing conversations, offer iRewards, help students make decisions, and even handle frustration. My new favorite, Sosh, lets you type negative thoughts on the screen then throw them in the shredder and watch as they’re chopped to bits. Technology isn’t just cool for these kids, it’s life-changing. But it does come with a price tag.
 
In 2011 Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) decided to create a pilot program to test the use of iPads for students with Autism. They purchased 9 iPads, loaded with autism apps and distributed them throughout the district to those with the greatest needs. The trouble is, there are approximately 120 students in TCAPS with Autism. So how do we meet that need when budgets are shrinking and the want list is a mile long? That’s the call I hope to answer.
 
I launched a new development of my own last year, the Traverse Traveler iPhone app. It’s a handy mobile guide to the Traverse Area featuring restaurants, wineries, lodging, shopping, events and more. As with most new technology it takes some time and some tinkering to realize all that it can do. When I heard about the TCAPS iPads for Autism program I realized we had an opportunity to create a unique fundraising event: social media for social good. It’s technology supporting technology, for a cause that’s close to my heart.

Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism
 
The Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism will take place from 1pm -3pm on Saturday April 14, 2012 in downtown Traverse City, Michigan. In this one-day event participants will use the Traverse Traveler smartphone app (FREE to download) to conduct a scavenger hunt throughout downtown Traverse City. Teams of up to 5 people will navigate from place to place, use the app to check-in at each location, complete tasks and collect raffle tickets along the way. Instructions for each activity and clues to the next location are supplied by the app.
 
Lucky Jack's logoI wanted to create a unique fundraising event that’s fun for families and raises money based on participation. Our presenting sponsor, Lucky Jack’s bought into our fundraising concept to Pay-Per-Check-in, whereby increasing the monies raised with every person, and every stop. All proceeds from the event will be donated to TCAPS to purchase iPads and apps for students with Autism.
 
Here’s how you can help:

Register your team for only $20 and participate in the event

Donate a used iPad2 to TCAPS. Drop off your used iPads at CityMac and TCAPS will mail you a receipt for your tax deductible donation.

Make a cash Donation to the iPads for Autism program. $500 will purchase an iPad. $150 will purchase a suite of apps. Every dollar helps!

By |2012-04-01T21:21:19+00:00April 1st, 2012|Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism Announced

Traverse Traveler to Host Scavenger Hunt to Benefit TCAPS Students with Autism

Scavenger Hunt for Autism Logo

The first annual Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism will take place in Traverse City, Michigan on Saturday, April 14, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. In this one-day event participants will use the Traverse Traveler smartphone app to conduct a scavenger hunt throughout downtown Traverse City. Utilizing an innovative approach to fundraising, the event will raise money to purchase iPads for Traverse City Area Public Schools students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

Traverse Traveler appHere’s How The Scavenger Hunt Works:

 

  • Participants register as teams for one of two event tracks: the Family Track featuring kid-friendly activities and less walking, and the Challenge Track geared toward adults and teens. All courses are family-friendly, walkable and fun.
     
  • Teams of up to 5 people will navigate from business to business, use the Traverse Traveler smartphone app (available for FREE in the iPhone App Store) to ‘check in’ at each location, complete tasks and collect prize tickets along the way.
     
  • Instructions for each activity and clues to the next location are supplied by the app.
     
  • At the end of the scavenger hunt, all teams will cross the finish line at the City Opera House to celebrate their accomplishments, enjoy refreshments and win prizes.
     
  • Corporate and individual donors commit to ‘Pledge Per Check-in,’ whereby increasing the fundraising efforts with every person, and every stop.

 

Brandy Wheeler, creator of the Traverse Traveler app, a handy mobile guide to the Traverse City region, designed this unique event to increase community awareness about Autism, a disorder that affects 1 in 110 children — including her 9-year-old son.

There are approximately 120 students in TCAPS with Autism. It’s a neurological disorder that can impair an individual’s ability to communicate and develop social skills. The severity of the disorder and the symptoms vary dramatically. Some children are unable to develop speech, some experience sensory issues, and others, diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, are highly intelligent but lack basic social skills most people take for granted.
 
In early 2011 Wheeler discovered a pilot program launched by TCAPS to place iPads with 9 students within the district who receive special education services for autism. Each device was loaded with a set of apps chosen to meet the specific needs of that child. Autism apps range from touch-screen visual schedules, to social skills practice, to full-scale communication aids.
 
iPads for Autism - Digi-MotoJame McCall, Executive Director of Special Education & Early Childhood Programs for TCAPS explains, "Our goal with using the iPads— or any other assistive technology— is to remove the barriers to education. To be able to put a device in the hands of a child that’s socially acceptable, and is something they are able to use and maneuver easily, that aids in communication, will help them in their learning."
 
Traverse Traveler approached TCAPS last fall about designing a fundraiser to help grow the iPads for Autism program at TCAPS. "I was thrilled that Brandy contacted me and told me about her plans to do a scavenger hunt and her thoughts about raising money for TCAPS students to put more iPads in the hands of our children that needed them. TCAPS is proud to be a partner with the Traverse Traveler."
 
iPads for Autism Digi-MotoBrandy Wheeler reached out to business owners, community members, educators and parents to bring this event to life. "Children with autism are magnetically drawn to technology," she said, " With this event we can combine the power of mobile and social media to create positive social change. It’s technology for technology."
 
All proceeds from the event will be donated to purchase iPads and apps for TCAPS students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Aspergers Syndrome. In addition to monies raised by the event, Traverse Traveler will donate $10 for every new business listing on the app between now and April 30, 2012.
 

Here’s how you can help!

The Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism is currently seeking event sponsors and Downtown Traverse City businesses who would like to participate in this event. For more information and to register a team, visit the Traverse Traveler website at: http://TraverseTraveler.com/Autism. TCAPS is also accepting tax-deductible cash donations for the iPads for Autism program at http://www.tcaps.net/autism.

 

Become a fan of the event on Facebook, and follow @TraverseTravelr on Twitter to keep up with event news as it happens.

By |2012-02-15T09:02:53+00:00February 15th, 2012|Events, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments