Volunteers and donors in Vancouver raised more than $700,000 for autism programs at a major fundraiser on Wednesday.
The Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN) held its annual LAUNCH holiday luncheon, featuring an upbeat performance by the Mayday Choir, a group made up of children with special needs.
Global BC news director Jill Krop emceed the event, which featured actor-singer Holly Robinson Peete, who has a son with autism, as a special guest.
“I will say there’s more information now, more awareness than ever,” said Robinson Peete.
“When RJ, my son who’s now 21, was three and was diagnosed I could barely get anyone around me to even know what autism was. So I think the awareness is better, but we still have a long way to go to spread a little bit more compassion.”
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Autism Speaks Canada estimates that one in every 66 Canadian children has autism. Every year, an estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults and lose access to school-based services.
“The best thing somebody can do in the community if they witness a family struggling with their loved one with autism is not judge, give them time and space, and say, ‘How can I help.”
PAFN offers a variety of programs and services including assessment and diagnosis, psychology, counselling, adult employment services and outreach.