Hume Partners with Youth Volunteers for Autism Speaks Event

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In many ways, The Hume Center’s participation in the event was similar to previous years: holding an informational resource booth at the fair, talking to participants of The Hume Center’s services, and getting to know other service providers. However, this was the first year in which a group of youth volunteers partnered with The Hume Center staff and assisted in the event. Five youth volunteers in total helped in the event: two with the preparation and setup and three with the actual running of the resource fair booth. These middle school and high school students sought out the opportunity to volunteer with The Hume Center as a way to earn required community service hours for their schools but had little prior knowledge of the autism community or community mental health services.

However, what began as an opportunity to earn community service hours seemed to turn into one of personal growth for the volunteers. After participating in the day’s events, the volunteers shared their personal experiences. One volunteer reported that she had no previous familiarity with autism but participating in the walk was an “eye-opening experience” that changed her perspective of the community. Another volunteer echoed the sentiment and noted that she “gained a greater understanding of the disability and the people who have autism.” Even though one of the volunteers did have some experience working with children who have special needs, she felt that volunteering at the walk was a unique one in which she was able to learn more about community mental health services and share information about Hume Center services to community members. However, one interaction in particular had a lasting impression on this volunteer: “a little girl came up to me and pointed at the balloon I was holding. I was a little confused because she didn't say a word the whole time but as I gave her the balloon I understood this was her way to communicate and this made me even more grateful for everything I am able to do. This I will treasure forever.”

The Hume Center staff felt thrilled to share participation in the event with a group of inquisitive, hard-working volunteers, who were eager to learn new things about the autism community and community mental health services. Overall, The Hume Center’s participation in this year’s Walk Now for Autism Speaks event was a great opportunity to celebrate the autism community and the youth volunteers made this event an extra special one. We hope this partnership will be a tradition for years to come! 

By: Courtney E. Meier, PsyD
Behavioral Consulting Services
Program Coordinator
April, 2016

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