Walk for Autism this Saturday

CPAAS hosts events throughout the year to raise awareness and support those with autism and other special needs in central Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Martsolf
CPAAS custom bracelets with CPAAS card.

The Central Pennsylvania Autism Society (CPAAS), a local non-profit group founded to support parents with children on the autism spectrum within Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, and Huntington Counties, is sponsoring an Autism Walk at Mansion Park in Altoona tomorrow, Saturday, April 27.

The walk is a new event this year to gain attention for autism awareness and to raise money for the other events that CPAAS holds. The cost is a $30 donation, which includes a t-shirt.

I love that I’m not alone in this journey and the ups and downs of the daily struggle of Autism. I have mothers and parents that can relate to both the triumphs and trials of autism. We support each other in the good times and bad.”

— Jessica Welsh

Festivities on Saturday will begin at 12:00 PM, including crafts, sensory activities, and other hands on fun.  Snacks and drinks will be available for free with additional food available for purchase. The walk will be from 2:00-4:00 PM.

This event, and all the other events throughout the year that CPAAS conducts are for children with autism and other special needs.

“I love that I’m not alone in this journey and the ups and downs of the daily struggle of autism. I have mothers and parents that can relate to both the triumphs and trials of Autism. We support each other in the good times and bad,” says Jessica Welsh, a parent who participates in CPAAS events.

Led by President Lindsay Martsolf, CPAAS organizes one or two sensory events a month in central Pennsylvania. It is also a support group for its members and helps businesses become more sensory friendly.

The group has close to 700 members made up of parents, caregivers, adults with autism, teachers, therapists, and other professionals in the community.

“After Rowan’s diagnosis I needed and prayed for an outlet like this to introduce him and other children with Autism too, and I just wanted to get involved so badly in spreading acceptance. Then I found Lindsay- the dedicated President of the society,” says Vice President Dana Showalter.

CPAAS focuses mainly on providing resources and activities for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families who live locally. It has sponsored numerous activities including a sensory movie night, a sensory train ride, and an autism-friendly picnic and pool day at the Bellwood Community Pool.

“My favorite memory from an event was from this past Winterfest, our sensory movie event. At one of point our daughter, Mia, was unable to no longer sit still so I took her out in the hall to let lose a little bit. When I walked out into the hall, there were three other mothers doing the same thing with their child. For the first time, I felt at ease and comforted that I wasn’t the only one going through this and instantly made a connection which has led to some wonderful friendships. Although the kids weren’t sitting there watching the movie like they ‘should have’, that was okay”, said Anita Young, member of CPAAS.

Autism isn’t going anywhere and neither are we. We see the able, not the label.”

— CPAAS President Lindsay Martsolf

Each of the events that are held by this group is for people of all ages. All of the events the society plans are creative and give children the opportunity to participate in activities that they might not be able to otherwise.

“Our events include activities in the community that are sometimes inclusive. We are teaching our children how to lead the most ‘typical’ life they can. The only way for our children to learn daily tasks or routines is to teach them,” said President Lindsay Martsolf.

The money raised by CPAAS stays local. Every dollar that CPAAS raises stays here to help the local families in our surrounding communities.

Along with the walk, CPAAS has the following activities planned:

  • All-some Mother of Special Children dinner- May 3, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at Marzoni’s in Hollidaysburg
  • May The 4th Be With You- May 4, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. at Hollidaysburg Area Public Library in Hollidaysburg
  • McDonald’s Night- May 20, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. at 406 E 25th Ave, Altoona
  • Toy Story 4 sensory movie night- June 23, 2019, at 4:00 p.m. at Clifton 5 in Huntington
  • Spikes Autism Awareness Night- July 13, 2019, at 7:05 p.m. at State College Spikes Field in
  • Sensory Rock and Roll Party- June 29, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. at Simply Dance in Altoona
  • Everett Railroad Event- September 21, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. at Everett Railroad Company in Hollidaysburg

The society’s main goal is to make people with any special needs feel comfortable with themselves and within the community. They want families to become educated and more aware of what their loved one is going through.

“I have a six-year-old with autism and I am a speech therapist. I see autism from a parent’s point of view as well as a professional’s point of view.  Autism isn’t going anywhere and neither are we. We see the able, not the label,” said Martsolf.

For more information, or to get involved, visit their website at https://centralpaautismsociety.weebly.com/