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Autism awareness at college

Sunderland College has helped to raise awareness of people living with autism by hosting its first ever event ahead of World Autism Day.

The college, alongside Education and Services for People with Autism (ESPA) held a series of activities and presentations at Bede Campus yesterday to mark the celebrations of World Autism Day today (April 02).

Now in its seventh year, World Autism Awareness Day sees autism organisations celebrate the day with fundraising and awareness-raising events and more than 100 people attended the all-day event which saw students living with autism take the stand to share their experiences, while raising money for the charity by raffling prizes throughout the day.

Education and Services for People with Autism Limited is a registered charity with over 24 years’ experience of supporting people on the autism spectrum and works alongside Sunderland College’s Together Activity Group (TAG), a new project designed to create more opportunities for students from all backgrounds to get together, allowing them to lead and shape the service whilst making friends and broadening their social interactions.  TAG aims to lift barriers to participation through enhancing opportunities, building friendships, promoting engagement in positive activities, supporting individuals and facilitating entry into further education or employment.

Kevin Lynch, disability lecturer at Sunderland College said: “This is the first time that the college has held an event for World Autism Day and I’m thrilled it is doing all it can to support such a worthwhile charity.  It has been such a valuable day and I’m pleased to say it will now be embedded in our Equality and Diversity calendar for future events.

“Our role at the college is to promote disability and the event offered students a great opportunity to educate others and raise awareness of the challenges of living with the disorder.  It was fantastic to see first-hand how ESPA is enabling people across the autism spectrum to enjoy rewarding lives.”

Julie Burns, counselling manager at ESPA and TAG coordinator, said: “It was great to see so many students involved in the event as I know many felt passionately that their experiences could be used and presented in such a way as to increase others understanding of their condition, stimulate discussion and debate, and maybe even change the way support and services are offered and delivered.

“The day provided people with a deeper understanding of autism and how it can affect individuals in their day to day life.  It showed how with the right support, people who have a diagnosis of autism can reach their full potential and live productive, fulfilling and independent lives.”

For more information on Sunderland College, visit www.sunderlandcollege.ac.uk, email info@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk or call 0191 511 6000.

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