This April, students at CIP Bloomington worked together to promote Autism Awareness. We kicked it off, so to speak, with a kickball tournament on April 2nd at Indiana University’s Dunn Meadow. It was a cold and cloudy day, but CIP students were ready to play, representing autism, and working with Susan Barnett, the project manager for U Bring Change 2 Mind. UBC2M is an IU organization composed of students from all backgrounds, majors, and interests who are invested in ending the stigma associated with mental illness on college campuses. We had a blast as we kicked away the cold and developed a sense of teamwork and co-learning beyond what is cultivated in the office.
Later that week, we purchased supplies and turned our normal CIP space into something blue and beautiful. With streamers, balloons, and lights, we changed the face of every wall and doorway. Our student council moved from room to room, decorating passionately as we listened to music and sang along. It was a memorable scene as we put on our Blue CIP shirts and blended in with our surroundings. Blue is the color of Autism Awareness, and it truly showed in Bloomington.
Civic engagement is important to CIP students, and April was filled with many events. Ivy Tech in Bloomington hosted a Transition Fair and needed volunteers to make sure it ran smoothly. CIP set up a table filled with pamphlets and brochures as our students greeted guests and told them about our program. Some students made the rounds from table to table and developed relationships within the community, promoting Autism Awareness as the event took place. The food was a nice treat and many students walked away with full bellies.
Area 10, Ellettsville’s Agency on Aging is always finding new ways to involve CIP. Alice is a senior citizen who just moved into a second floor apartment. She had been cleaning out her things, and soon realized she was overwhelmed with boxes. CIP students helped Alice with her problem, and for one afternoon we broke down and moved empty box after empty box from Alice’s apartment to the recycling bin on the first floor. While it was challenging managing that much cardboard, the look on Alice’s face once we had completed the job made it all worthwhile.
Several CIP students were invited to help usher at a screening of “Where Hope Grows” at the Fine Arts Building as a part of Down Syndrome Family Connect in Bloomington. It was a full house as people filled the theatre. CIP students opened doors, took the head count, and checked registration forms. They dressed to impress, wearing their nicest clothes, which gave the event a very classy feel. CIP students were invited to the reception following and got to taste some fine foods, drink Italian sodas, and listen to a string quartet as they mingled with the star of the film, David DeSanctis.
Overall, CIP did a wonderful job promoting Autism Awareness. The involvement of the students was thorough, working beyond their expected tasks. We plunged into new environments as we learned to work together and discover who we are as students and staff. The community of Bloomington displayed a side of support and enthusiasm that only helped propel our mission to new heights. It was a truly rewarding experience to be a part of Autism Awareness Month.