Autism Walk Northland celebrates Autism awareness month

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Autism Walk Northland is an event for people to walk and donate to support people on the Autism spectrum. According to data from 2020, the CDC said in 2023, 1 in 36 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism Walk Northland is part of the Autism Association of Northern Minnesota. Donations given at Autism Walks can help people on the spectrum receive the help they need.

Katie Godden, one of the Co-Founders of Autism Walk Northland, talked more about why the walk is so important. “Everybody knows somebody in their life that has autism. It’s a huge spectrum. So someone can be on either ends.” Godden said, “So our main focus is to raise awareness, raise acceptance, and raise money to give our students what they need in the public school setting.”

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Autism Walk Northland was on hiatus for two years. Katie Godden, is hoping with bringing it back in person, more people can show their support. Especially since schools might not have the necessary funds for students with Autism. “Sometimes the school budgets don’t allow for the things that our kids may need from adaptive equipment, to bouncy balls to sit on, fidgets toys, those types of things. So mainly we are here to raise awareness and acceptance, but also to give our kids what they need in the school day.”

Nia Filipovich, is an avid walker for Autism Walk Northland, because her mom is one of the co-founders, and her sister is on the spectrum. “I do think it’s a rewarding cause. So of course they keep coming back. Over the years, I just kind of walk until I can’t anymore.” Filipovich said. “That’s what’s great about the walk. You don’t have to do the whole like five K if you don’t want do. You do what you can.”

Katie Godden also said if people were unable to come for the walk, Autism Walk Northland is still accepting donations online. “Our kids just want to be kids like anybody else. They want to have friends, they want to go to the movies.” Godden said. “They are just like anyone else. But they need adaptions to be able to function in everyday life. If it’s someone to walk around with them at school, or if it’s a friend that needs to take their hand and do something with them. Our kids just want to be accepted.”

For more information about Autism Association of Northern Minnesota you can look here. For another story about Autism Spectrum you can look here.