For the second year in a row, walkers will take to the streets of London next weekend in an effort to raise awareness of a disorder effecting one in 68 children — autism.
The Action for Autism walk will begin at noon Saturday, April 18 at the London-Laurel County Farmers’ Market. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m.
Lisa Depew, co-president of Action for Autism, said the need for an autism awareness walk in the area began after a similar walk held in Clay County was moved out of the area.
“I myself, with my twins, had went to all three of Clay County’s walks,” Depew said. “Everyone went there. The first year they had around 500 participants, and the second year 3,000. We just wanted to make sure somebody was still raising awareness.”
With the assistance of Co-President Allison Westerfield and other parent and community volunteers, Action for Autism was established.
“We have tons of volunteers and none of this would be possible without them,” Depew said. “To pull off the walk it takes the families and community members.”
Last year’s initial walk around downtown London drew around 500 participants. Because of it, Action for Autism was able to donate 15 iPads and $500 in iTunes funds to Laurel County Schools’ special education and $1,300 to Camp LEAP, a local summer camp for children with special needs.
This year, Depew and the rest of the Action for Autism members are hoping for an even larger turnout.
Depew said the mile walk was designed to be family friendly, so that children could participate. Informational vendor booths will also be set up at the farmers’ market to provide educational materials concerning autism. Inflatables and food and drink vendors will also be on hand for participants to enjoy.
T-shirts benefiting the walk and Action for Autism are currently on sale at Sheppard’s Fan Shop in London for $12. T-shirts not sold at the store will be available for purchase at the farmers’ market the morning of the walk.
Depew said funds from this years walk will once again go toward the Laurel County Schools’ special education program. They are also hoping this year to fund training for Laurel County teachers at the Kentucky Autism Training Center in Louisville, and the Laurel County School District’s Special Olympics.