Hatboro-Horsham School District teachers and staff are bringing a new lesson to the classroom this April: autism awareness. Throughout the district, teachers and staff have been wearing blue to support the awareness and raise money for Autism Speaks and St. Joseph University’s Kinney Center.
Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the United States, with a new study by the CDC stating one in 68 children are diagnosed in the US. Boys are five times more likely to be effected than girls, with one in 42 boys diagnosed compared to one in 189 girls.
Throughout the District
Each of the seven schools and the district administration building have gone blue for Autism Awareness Month. Through the month of April, each school has selected a day to support “Light it up Blue” with a teacher and staff shades of blue dress down day to collect money for Autism Speaks, which is an autism advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness, researching causes and treatments, and hopefully one day finding a cure.
“I’m very proud that Hatboro-Horsham is participating in Autism Awareness Month,” event coordinator and Crooked Billet Elementary School teacher Liz Buseman said. “I’m thrilled we were able to go blue as part of this world-wide event. Our little district is being part of an entire movement to make people aware of the prevalence of autism.”
In addition to dress down day, district buildings have banners at the entrance of each school, along with a blue light bulb, recognizing April as Autism Awareness Month. Buseman said she hopes it inspires people to do research and learn about the disorder.
“Light it up Blue” Day is an internationally recognized autism awareness campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence of the spectrum disorder and to fundraise for research in hopes of finding a cure. There is currently no known cause of autism.
Simmons and Hallowell Elementary Schools
Teachers and staff in the Autistic Support classes at Hallowell and Simmons Elementary Schools are working all month to inform the school and outside community about the prevalence of the spectrum disorder and bring awareness in hopes of finding a cure.
“We have been celebrating autism awareness month for several years in both schools separately. This year, the schools joined to start a district-wide initiative,” Autistic Support teacher Alissa Hetrick said.
Throughout April, Simmons and Hallowell will participate in fundraising and awareness events, including “Light it up Blue” Day that was held April 2. Participants demonstrated their unity to raise awareness by wearing blue shirts, some of which were designed by a Hallowell student with autism several years ago; putting blue lights throughout the school buildings; and wearing “light bulb” tags with statistics about autism as conversation starters.
All funds from the t-shirt sales and the Autism Speaks Philadelphia walk teachers participated in this past November, were donated to Autism Speaks. Donations directly benefit individuals with autism, as well as fun efforts towards finding a cure.
Crooked Billet Elementary School
Fourth and fifth grade students at Crooked Billet Elementary School are raising awareness and funds for Autism Speaks. The students have been working hard to make autism awareness ribbons and rainbow rubber band bracelets, which were sold at school lunches April 7 through 11. All the funds from the sales will be contributed to the district collection for Autism Speaks.
“It’s a great idea and a wonderful way for our students to contribute to the district-wide initiative,” Principal Kelli Sendel said.
In addition to selling the bracelets and ribbons, students from Buseman’s class are sharing books with other Crooked Billet classrooms. She organized the Autism Awareness events at the school in hopes of sharing more information. Her students are reading age-appropriate books to other classrooms throughout April in order to help spread awareness.
“It’s nice to see such compassion in the children,” Buseman said. “Many of my students have become excited about spreading awareness about how prevalent this issue is. They’re reading about it and sharing their new knowledge.”
Keith Valley Middle School
Students and teachers at Keith Valley Middle School have been spreading awareness by gathering donations to St. Joseph University’s Kinney Center. Autistic Support teacher Samantha Jones has been promoting sales of Helping Hands China Herbal Hand and Body Cream, Philadelphia sports puzzle design t-shirts, and Stella and Dot Autism Awareness bracelets, with all proceeds donated to the center.
All proceeds from the sales help provide local resources families can use that provide education for students and parents. They also support funding for training and research in the field of autism care.
In addition, students have been conducting activities during advisory sessions to help spread awareness in Keith Valley about what autism is and how to be a good friend to those who are different.