One in every 94 Canadians has Autism Spectrum Disorder. That is why events such as the Rockin’ The Spectrum Dodgeball Tournament hosted by the Brock Leaders Citizenship Society (BLCS) are so important. Last Friday, the Brock community gathered in the Ian Beddis gyms to participate in the second annual Rockin’ The Spectrum Dodgeball Tournament.
The event, aimed at raising awareness about Autism. Celyn Ouellet, the initiative coordinator decided to create this event last year because since she was about 13 years old she has been working with different chapters of AutismONTARIO, particularly in my family She has quite a few siblings and quite a few of my family members on the Autism spectrum.
“Seeing a lot of the stigma around it from people not necessarily being as informed or having the access to the same knowledge I’ve had my entire life it’s kind of wanted me to push the awareness and acceptance of AutismONTARIO and the Autism spectrum in general.”
This year there was an increase in the number of teams who signed up, but unfortunately fewer teams than last year showed up. There ended up being a total of six teams this year.
The day started with opening remarks from Vanessa Coens, who is the Adult Support Coordinator and the Community events Coordinator for Niagara’s chapter of AustismONTARIO.
“It warms my heart when I open my email and have an email from the young women whose organize this event, saying we want to raise awareness. We don’t want to just have an awesome dodgeball tournament. We want to actually know what autism is. We want to educate the people who signed up for it. I think it’s phenomenal because its events like these that gets our name out there, gets awareness spread. I think it’s fantastic`, said Coens.
After Coens talk, the dodgeball competition began. The tournament was set up round robin style.
After the first round of the tournament, participants were given a break. They were encouraged to use it to learn more about AutismONTARIO. Immediately following the break, they were given a 10-minute trivia quiz about AutismONTARIO and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Correct answers counted for points towards each team’s final score.
“Considering this day is about Autism acceptance and Autism awareness we wanted to make sure the educational part of it still drives through,” Ouellet explains the purpose of the bonus round.
To finish off the day teams played their second round of competitions. The team Above Average Lows ended up winning the competition
“I would definitely participate again,” says Master’s student Mikayla Bunn. Bunn has experience working in the field of Autism, which is why she and her friends decided to participate in the event.
For those students who may not have had a chance to come out last Friday, but still want to help, Coens suggests that students should start by learning more.
“If you want to know more contact the Niagara chapter. We hold programs. Come and volunteer at events, come and volunteer at a program. Come and just dedicate your time. Or if you can’t do that, spread awareness. Post something on your Facebook or try to educate someone after learning about it.”
In addition, students are encouraged to participate in upcoming AutismONTARIO events such as their Showtime Comedy and Entertainment night on January 27 or their Trivia night on March 3. These events help to fund the non-profit organization.
- Ana Ferreira, Assistant News Editor