Guest post by Community Resource Coordinator, Charles Steen
APD’s Central region covers 12 counties with its regional headquarters in Orlando and field offices in Lakeland and Wildwood. This diverse region stretches from coast to coast, covers urban and rural, beachside and inland.
APD recently participated in four autism walks and fairs in Lakeland, Melbourne, Ocala, and Orlando. This was a great opportunity to meet families, providers, organizations, and community leaders. APD was able to give information to numerous families. We also had an APD resource table at the Special Olympics State Games at Disney, and the Best Buddies Friendship Walk at Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando.
On May 2, APD hosted its Disability Employment Expo at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando. This event had 525 attendees and participants were hired on the spot by the Krystal Company. Interviews were arranged with Sea World and job shadowing opportunities were set up with Florida Hospital.
The Area 14 Family Care Council hosted a presentation by Kathie Snow, parent, advocate and author of Disability is Natural. A diverse group of parents, individuals, and professionals were in attendance to learn specifics about the importance of inclusion, how and where to set good expectations, people first language, and positive attitudes.
There are many exciting events on the horizon in the Central Region. Most notable is Family Café, June 6-8. Thousands of participants are expected to attend. The event will include countless activities, educational experiences, and opportunities to network with people from around the state. APD will also be hosting an Employment Expo at Café on June 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is free to individuals with disabilities and those who accompany them. It is a great opportunity for individuals to participate in mock interviews, get their resume critiqued, and to meet employers. Some employers include Walgreens, Universal Orlando, and Krystal.
Other upcoming events in the Central Region include Nathaniel’s Hope-Make ‘m Smile Walk at Lake Eola in Orlando on June 7. Make ‘m Smile is an annual community festival dedicated to celebrating VIP Kids (kids with all types of special needs and disabilities) and their families. This is a great opportunities for families to meet resource exhibitors and make new friends.
The Area 13 Family Care Council will be hosting a community forum on June 14 at the Sunrise Arc in Leesburg. All families are encouraged to attend.
For those able and interested, Lift Disability network, a faith-based organization in Central Florida, is having their annual Breakaway Camp July 8-12 at Lake Yale in Leesburg. This camp allows families to break away from the grind so they can enjoy a week of fun and relaxation. For more information and an application packet, visit http://www.liftdisability.net/2014-fl-breakaway .
In the Ocala area, the Ocala Autism Support Network (OASN) is offering to sponsor 30+ children with Autism for free swimming lessons. The child must be 18 or under and must have an autism diagnosis to be eligible. For more information, you can reach OASN at (352) 462-0168 or email@example.com.