April is Autism Awareness Month, and Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz is inviting the public to a special ceremony for this year’s artistic display in Downtown Miami to educate residents about the disorder. On Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at noon, the commissioner will unveil artwork in the Stephen P. Clark Center lobby, 111 NW First Street, created by students from the South Florida Autism Charter School. Information about autism and treatment will also be available throughout the entire month of April. The event will kick off with four young men, who have Autism, to sing the National Anthem.
The event guest speakers include: Emily Vogt, a young lady who currently is a senior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida and last summer worked as an intern in The Dan Marino Foundation’s employment program. She was 6 years old when she was diagnosed with Autism. She currently works as a volunteer at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines and participates in the “Best Buddies” club at American Heritage School. She plans to attend college, where she will focus on Pre-nursing and early childhood education. The other speaker is 15 year old Sam Gelfand, a student at North Broward Prep, where he is a member of the Debate team and is the announcer for the Varsity Baseball team. Sam has Asperger Syndrome and for the past 4 years, he has been an avid speaker on Asperger’s Awareness. He recently gave 7 speeches on the matter during his spring break in New Jersey. Sam’s goal is to attend college and study Automotive Design.
Autism Awareness Month came to fruition in Miami-Dade in 2009 as the result of legislation sponsored by Commissioner Diaz. The specially-designated month is designed to increase awareness about autism and treatment, as well as to encourage early testing for children. According to the Center for Disease Control, autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that impairs communication skills and social abilities. There is no known cause or cure for autism, which is estimated to affect 1 out of every 88 children born in the United States.
The event sponsors include Autism Speaks, The Dan Marino Foundation, and the South Florida Autism Charter School.
For more information, please contact Commissioner Diaz’s office at 305-599-1200.