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Posts Tagged ‘autism’

As I write this entry, our family is preparing to witness our son participate in a horse-riding competition.  For most parents, attending competitions is an honored ritual – supporting our children as they prepare to succeed, compete with honor, and grow to become the productive citizens we pray they will be.  But this is not just an ordinary contest – the contestants have overcome not just learning how to ride, but how to perform many everyday tasks we take for granted.

Now I can’t speak for every competitor because I don’t know them personally, but because this competition is geared toward those with special needs, I can only imagine what they may have had to overcome.  As for our son, he continues to recover from autism slowly but surely.  We thank God for the resources and people He has brought into our life to assist him (and his proud mom and dad!).

I wanted to take this opportunity to “swell my chest” for my son AND daughter as they continue to mature in this thing called LIFE.  For those with children (biological, step, grand and otherwise), in the midst of serving your communities, congregants and constituents, show love to your children in any way you can (especially pray for them) – we don’t have them for long!

Be strong and be blessed!

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“So, what do you do?”

This question is not just asked often of you personally, but is used more broadly to ask about the work of your organization.  As a community economic development (CED) organization, the answer to this question could be broad or narrowly focused, specific or general…and can mean the difference between receiving a response of “Oh, ok” or “Tell me more”.  From potential volunteers to prospective donors to possible board members, each want to know if what you do is in line with their interests and priorities.

In the non-profit arena, the more formal term used to define “what you do” is call “programming”.  Your organization was created to fulfill some need, advocate for positive change, and/or improve the overall community.  The specific ways you accomplish this is through the creation and implementation of programs.  If you look at organizations as diverse as the Autism Speaks, NAACP or Trickle Up, each has created programs and activities that support the organization’s mission and vision.  For your organization to be success, you will need to spend time developing the ability to clearly articulate what you do and why you do it.

Before addressing how to more clearly define your organization’s programming, there is one important “DO NOT” to consider – DO NOT create programming just to apply for a particular grant.  There are many, many funding options with a diverse array of funding priorities and it is highly likely that “one is right for you”.  So, be true to your organization’s mission and vision!

In order to confidently articulate what you do and why, the following questions should be answered (not an exhaustive list):

  1. How do you know there is a need (or demand) for the program you want to do?
  2. How will your program address these needs?
  3. Are there other organizations in the community addressing these needs and how?
  4. Who are you reaching with your program?  What is your target market?
  5. What resources do you need to implement the program?
  6. How will you know whether the program is successful?

The ultimate measure of your organization’s worth is its ability to successfully address the needs that have been identified.  Look out for more detailed information on how to effectively address these questions over the next few weeks.

Be strong and be blessed!

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“What does autism have to do with economic development?” you might ask.  Well, as it turns out, it does, and will continue to,  have an effect.  As with any trend, economic developers and other community leaders must be mindful of global, social, financial and even medical trends and how these trends affect their community’s overall health and growth opportunities.

According to the Mayo Clinic, autism is one of a group of serious developmental problems called autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that appear in early childhood — usually before age 3.  Though symptoms and severity vary, all autism disorders affect a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others.  Children with autism generally have problems in three crucial areas of development — social interaction, language and behavior.

Of course, for many of you, I’m “speaking to the choir”.  With 1 in nearly 100 children being diagnosed with autism, either your family or the family of someone you know has been affected (including my family).

So, back to the question at hand…how does autism and economic development relate?  The children diagnosed with autism today will become, unless a cure is discovered, adults with autism tomorrow.  As this occurs, communities that have the medical and (more importantly) social infrastructure to accommodate their needs will succeed in not only attracting them, but their families and other support networks.

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, take this opportunity to reflect on how your community recognizes, supports and assists in integrating those affected with autism and other developmental delays into the overall community.  For more information on autism and other developmental delays, visit the websites of Autism Society, Autism Speaks and The Arc.

Be strong and be blessed!

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