Temecula Grapevine

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Light it up Blue in Old Town Temecula – City Hall celebrates Autism Awareness Month in April, 2014

City Hall Lights it up blue in Temecula

City Hall Lights it up blue in Temecula

On April 2, 2014, a crowd assembled at Temecula’s City Hall for a special convening of the Autism Task Force, a joint venture between Temecula, Hemet, Wildomar, and the Our Nicholas Foundation (ONF) dedicated to improving life for families affected by Autism and other special needs in Southwest Riverside County.

City of Temecula lights city hall up blue for autism awareness month in April, 2014 (Ashley Ludwig)

City of Temecula lights city hall up blue for autism awareness month in April, 2014 (Ashley Ludwig)

“The statistics don’t lie.” Stated Naggar, of the recent CDC reports regarding the number of autistic children in 2014. “We are bordering on a public health emergency, and (Southwest Riverside) is doing all that we can to stay ahead of that.”

Gathered crowd listens to city council member Mike Naggar

Gathered crowd listens to city council member Mike Naggar

The crowd of mostly blue-wearing citizens listened to information from Naggar, regarding the newly updated Disneyland special needs policies, and helped them understand how some people’s abuse of the system last September still doesn’t apply to families who truly need the magical Disney experience for their families.

City hall lighting up blue for autism awareness.

City hall lighting up blue for autism awareness.

 

“When a person with autism truly doesn’t understand how to wait, or what waiting means, there are things that can be done.” Naggar said. The crowd, listening raptly, took in this, and other valuable information in this ever growing community of families affected by autism.

Light tidbits served by city of Temecula for those who stayed to watch the city hall colors deepen

Light tidbits served by city of Temecula for those who stayed to watch the city hall colors deepen

Even more importantly, information was shared regarding the city of Hemet’s new Special Needs Registry that aids in rapidly disseminating information regarding special needs people who get lost, hide, or run away–and is thought to be the first of its kind in Riverside county.

Special needs family, with assistance dog watching the colors in Temecula

Special needs family, with assistance dog watching the colors in Temecula

With days lengthening, the blue gels that aimed at city hall didn’t reach full strength until well after twilight, however the special needs community stayed on hand to listen to the speakers share events that will take place throughout the month of April.

A crowd of 150 special needs families and friends gathered in Temecula

A crowd of 150 special needs families and friends gathered in Temecula

Mike Naggar, Temecula City Council Member, led the meeting with personal and professional anecdotes about what the Autism Task Force has meant to the community at large.

Friends and family enjoying the night celebrating Autism Awareness in Temecula

Friends and family enjoying the night celebrating Autism Awareness in Temecula

Mark Anselmo, founder of ONF, spoke on behalf of his foundation, as well as his son Nicholas, now almost 13 years old. “When we approached the City of Temecula last year about the Light it up Blue campaign, we never expected things to move so quickly.” Anselmo said. “The support this city has shown towards our kiddos, and families, is overwhelming.”

Crowds among the lights in Temecula

Crowds among the lights in Temecula

ONF, who has recently added to their board of directors, is expecting rapid growth in 2014, and has shared their blueprint for aiding and encouraging families affected by autism, nationwide.

Arches at city hall, Temecula, lighting up blue

Arches at city hall, Temecula, lighting up blue

Temecula–whose groundbreaking Autism Community Playbook has helped other regions obtain direction and guidance on how to address the growing need to provide services and programs to youth and families affected by Autism–is poised to break ground on a new Special Needs Park this spring, as well as is hosting a variety of Autism related activities over the course of April, 2014.

Including:

“Finding Kind” Film and Follow Up Discussion – Tuesday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Hillcrest Academy

“Sensory Movie Night” – Friday, April 19 at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at  Temecula Conference Center

“Easter Egg Hunt” – Saturday, April 20 at 9:30 a.m., hunt starts at 10 a.m. at Temeku Hills Park and Patricia Birdsall Park

“Special Games and Caregiver Summit”- Saturday, May 3, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Great Oak High School

High Hopes Adult Social Program – 1st and 3rd Friday of every month at the Mary Phillips Senior Center, Temecula

Autism Awareness Month Activities

Autism Awareness Month Activities

 

For more information, follow: https://www.facebook.com/cityoftemecula

 

 

 

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About Ashley Ludwig

Ashley Ludwig is an Editor for Patch News, Orange County and Los Angeles. She is also an inspirational romantic suspense author.

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