Where will you be at 1:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thurs., April 26, 2012? Can you take a full minute to tap into your inner child and help a South Jersey organization set a Guinness World Record? Blow Bubbles 4 Autism, a special project started by FACES 4 Autism eight years ago, is striving toward that goal to raise awareness of autism by visibly uniting those who “educate, befriend and love people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
April is Autism Awareness Month and the headlines and sound bytes regarding autism, particularly during this month of focus on the disability, will most likely address the broad issues of research, funding and political positioning, and that’s fine. But hopefully the very personal impact of this particular challenge for so many families in our state and our nation will be the message that will prevail.
While advocacy groups, legislators and task forces negotiate goals and strategies to address this modern public health crisis, for individuals and families affected by autism the challenges are daily, all consuming and personal. For the Mosca family of Margate, autism is very personal. Their son, Kyle, is autistic. But they have responded to this personal challenge by creating community among others like themselves who are affected by autism.
Isabelle Mosca, Kyle’s mother, founded FACES (Families for Autistic Children, Education, and Support), a non-profit organization that supports families who have children with autism. In our community, FACES 4 Autism Support Network meetings are held at Ocean Academy in Court House on the first Monday of each month. The child care provided at these evening meetings allows the children an opportunity for socialization and enables family members to share knowledge, frustrations and triumphs in their daily struggle to secure the best quality of life for their children.
In 2004, Isabelle came up with the idea for Blow Bubbles 4 Autism, a project that is beautiful in its simplicity and universal appeal. As the project’s website explains, “Bubbles are symbols of joy, hope and laughter. They bring people together.” So each year on a designated day in April, Bubbles 4 Autism asks people to spread autism awareness “…in the form of glycerin bubbles across the sky as messages of hope to families dealing with autism.”
For the past two years, Bubbles 4 Autism has set a special goal of holding the Guinness World Record for the most people blowing bubbles at the same time in various locations. This year it will take a documented 37,000 people participating to reach that goal. Details about how to participate and be counted toward that goal can be found on the FACES 4 Autism website: www.faces4autism.org.
I believe, based on interviews she has given, that Isabelle Mosca would agree it is more about the journey than the destination. Even if the Guinness World Record is not achieved in the cause of autism awareness this year, those bubbles you see floating skyward at exactly 1:15 pm on April 26th will be signs of hope and solidarity for families dealing with autism.
DID YOU KNOW?
• “Through the Maze: A Family Guide to Navigating the NJ Service Systems for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders” is a useful publication that can be accessed and downloaded from the NJ Office on Autism website: www.state.nj.us /humanservices/ddd/home/ooa.
• Autism Family Services of New Jersey is accepting applications for a $1,000 scholarship to be awarded to one qualified candidate of the graduating class of 2012. To apply, a candidate must be a NJ high school senior with an established diagnosis of Autism, Asperger’s syndrome or PDD-NOS and planning to pursue post-secondary education at a college, university, technical, trade, or vocational school. Deadline for applications is May 21. For more information contact Michelle Smith (732-262-8020)
• On Sat., April 21 there will be a County Healthcare Resource Day event at the Wildwoods Convention Center from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free health screenings will be offered and there will be more than 40 local community healthcare exhibits. A presentation on The Management of Asthma will begin at 11 a.m. and one on Radiology & Radiation: How Safe? Will begin at 12:30. For more information contact the CMC Health Department (609-463-6521)
• The Blind Center of the Jersey Cape is holding a Pancake Breakfast fundraiser on Sat., April 28 from 8 a.m to 12 noon at the Pudgie Pelican Café, Dune Drive at 33rd Street in Avalon. Tickets are $10 per person and may be ordered in advance (609-624-0931) or purchased at the door.
• Also on Sat., April 28 at 9 a.m., The Coalition Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) will hold a Community Walk in the Park Against Sexual Assault at the Cape May County Park and Zoo in Court House. There will be guest speakers and community organizations will sponsor Information and Resources tables. All are welcome! For more information, call 609-522-6489.
• CONTACT Cape-Atlantic is holding a Silent Auction & Lunch on Sun., April 29 at the Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be ordered by calling: 823-1850 or 463-4564.
Pierson writes from the Cape May County Department of Aging and Disability Services