Raising autism awareness during 'Make a Difference Day'
Wiesbaden Girl Scouts from Daisy Troop 86 take part in the Autism Awareness Walk. More than 80 people turned out of the walk in Wiesbaden's Hainerberg Housing Oct. 24.

WIESBADEN, Germany - For the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, making a difference starts with awareness and understanding.
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More than 80 people participated in the garrison's Oct. 24 Autism Awareness Walk in Hainerberg Housing.
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As groups of children and families walked the 1.6-mile route, participants read signs designed to create an awareness of autism.
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One read "What is autism'"
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That simple question has no simple answer, explained Tom Jenkins, the garrison's Exceptional Family member Program manager.
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Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects the normal functioning of the brain. Warning signs of the disorder can include repetitive movements with objects and a lack of appropriate eye gaze.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects as many as one in 150 children in the United States, and recent studies show that statistic may change to one in 100 children.
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"Autism is the most prevalent developmental disorder to date," read a sign posted along the awareness walk. Another sign read "The autism spectrum disorder is considered the fastest growing neurobiological condition in the world."
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Marching in the road, seven kindergartners and first-graders from Girl Scout Daisy Troop 86 smiled as their mothers read aloud the autism facts.
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"We're trying to teach the girls about understanding that some children have this disorder," said Suzanne Pierce, troop leader for Girl Scout Daisy Troop 86.
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Participating in the walk helped the girls gain a learning petal for making the world a better place.
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The walk, hosted by the garrison's Army Community Service and Exceptional Family Member Program, was the Wiesbaden community's second annual participation in Make A Difference Day.
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The day, an annual program created by USA Weekend magazine, recognizes hundreds of community service projects that take place on the same day, the fourth Saturday in October. The Wiesbaden garrison was one of three army garrisons in Europe to participate in the Make A Difference Day event.
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"This is an example of where we can make a difference ourselves," said Col. Jeffrey Dill, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander.
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Drawing from the garrison's new Comprehensive Community Fitness program, Dill noted that the Autism Awareness Walk touched on two pillars essential to overall well-being in a community - physical activity and social interaction.
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"(The numbers for autism) are alarming, and calling it to awareness is important. It's not going away any time soon. We have to pull together as a society," he said.
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The garrison's Autism Awareness Walk was a registered event with the Make A Difference Day organization and also with Autism Speaks, a nonprofit autism science and advocacy organization.
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Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 27 accepted donations to benefit Autism Speaks.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16