Kids and families will come together this weekend to spread awareness and show support regarding something that they can all relate to at the fifth annual Walk for Autism.
“It’s been a really nice thing because I think a lot of parents meet in that setting and feel comfortable striking up a conversation with another family,” Kylee Geer said.
That was her goal five years ago when the Minot Walk for Autism began, and she gets to see it live and in color once again this year.
She’s the owner and a speech-language pathologist at Minot Center for Pediatric Therapy, where some of the kids she works with are on the autism spectrum.
Kids like 10-year-old Caleb Schmidt, who, like many kids, enjoys legos, animals and says, “everybody thinks that I’m a great drawer.”
His mom, Shannon, also organizes the Walk for Autism.
“It was just a need that we saw in our community to get families together and just have this time to share together, have a good time together,” she said.
She’s a mom of six and has learned over the years what it’s like to have a child who’s different.
She says being with people who understand some of the challenges is a big help.
“There are different behaviors that happen in the home, at school, outside of that, that unless you are a parent or a sibling or somebody closely connected to somebody with autism, you just don’t get it,” she said.
Still, there are things people who may not understand can learn.
“The biggest thing is helping other people to understand that the child is not just being difficult or they’re not naughty,” she explained. “There’s truly something going on and you can help them and they want to do the right thing, they just need some extra help.”
The Minot Walk for Autism is meant to be a safe and inclusive environment for all families to show support and raise awareness.
There are already 175 people registered but others are more than welcome to show up on Saturday.
“I really like seeing all the kids out there together. We invite members from the police and fire departments to come too and kids always love getting to spend time, talk to the officers and see their equipment,” said Geer.
Understanding and supporting those with autism and their loved ones is Something You Should Know.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to Operation Find Safe, which offers tracking bracelets for kids and adults who are at risk of wandering.
The Minot Walk for Autism is at Roosevelt Park Zoo, rain or shine, on Saturday at 1 p.m.