A.S. and SPACE were recognized for being the first entities on campus to take on a campus-wide challenge against autism.
Ali Garcia, the executive director of SPACE, and Justin Weiss, coordinator for the Unified We Serve volunteer program at CSUN, presented a $1,693 check to the executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of Autism Speaks.
“I want to thank you,” Phillip Hain said. “It means so much to me as the executive director and a parent of a son with autism. One out of 110 American children are diagnosed with autism.”
Weiss, also a part of the Matador Involvement Center (MIC), said A.S. and SPACE bought glow sticks and sold them at Big Show to raise money. He said they sold out and all of the proceeds from those sales were going to Autism Speaks.
Hain said Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization that funds research for autism, helps advocacy projects raise awareness, and provides family services for those affected by autism.
He added that over the past two years, Autism Speaks has been advocating for families to get insurance, which will pay for therapy for those with autism. Hain said he received an e-mail from a man whose insurance provider turned him down because autism was considered as a pre-existing condition.
“You’ve (A.S. and SPACE) raised awareness and funds,” Hain said. “We appreciate the partnership and look forward to more efforts.”
Weiss said he launched the Unified 4 Autism CSUN Campus Challenge to do something on behalf of autism.
“We decided to bring a variety of entities on this campus to work together for a good cause,” Weiss said. “This can be done through fundraisers, awareness campaigns, or directly by volunteering for an autism cause.”
A.S. President Conor Lansdale said that with the freshman class common reading of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon, which has a character with autism, he wanted students to come together for a single cause.
“We want our students to have a common purpose for a great cause,” Lansdale said. “Autism is a great cause and we need to do all we can for autism.”
Weiss said he wanted to acknowledge A.S. and SPACE for bringing autism awareness.
“It was truly an honor to know that A.S. and SPACE was the first to take on the challenge,” Weiss said. “You are the direct example of what students can do to make a difference.”
When the campus moved its focus to autism, Garcia said Weiss went to the Senate and challenged A.S. to get involved.
She added the Big Show was a great place to raise awareness.
“A large portion of CSUN students, including community members, come out to the Big Show,” Garcia said. “So with thoughtful consideration, we decided to add a portion of the show dedicated to raising awareness.”
Weiss said he wanted A.S. to challenge other entities on campus to see if they can top what A.S. and SPACE have done.
“On April 23 at the Rose Bowl, we are going to have everyone who took the challenge to meet for an autism walk,” Weiss said.
He added he is aware of other events to support autism, such as the art walk showcasing art of children with autism provided by fraternities and sororities who work with them.