HANFORD — The Hanford Police Department and Sensory Rock are teaming up to bring an Autism Awareness Event downtown.
The event will take place at Civic Park from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 14. and on the heels of World Autism Awareness Day, which is on Friday.
“From personal experience, knowing that this isn’t really an event that is out there — with family members that don’t have the resources or not aware of what autism is — the goal was to have all these resources out here, so that way families know what to look for in their children and if they don’t know how to reach out for people, these vendors that we’re going to have out there are basically going to help them with that,” HPD Officer Rolando Jaime said.
The Autism Awareness Event will have free food, a K-9 demo, the Hanford Fire Department, therapy dogs, resource booths, music, fun activities and a petting zoo.
“By having these kinds of activities such as games and the K-9 demo we’re going to have, they’re having a SWAT truck out there, it’s going to entertain the kids,” Jaime said. “We’re going to have tons of games for these kids so that way they stay engaged and it’s going to fit the needs for all the kids whether they have a disability or not.”
Jaime, who’s been with the HPD for six years, said he wanted to do an event like this since his second year on the force. This year, he finally decided to go ahead with his idea and he said the HPD was “100% on board with this.”
It was personal experience for Jaime, which sparked his interest in hosting an event to raise autism awareness.
“Not knowing what autism was or what it was at the time, maybe if there was an event like this somewhere locally where I lived at, I would’ve known what it was,” Jaime said. “It’s just to spread the word and just to be aware of certain signs and symptoms for family members that don’t know what autism is.”
The HPD had autism awareness patches made that the officers can wear on their uniform. The patches are also being sold to the public for $5 with the money going to Autism-related charities.
Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.
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