Autism Society of Cape Breton competing in Aviva Community Fund Challenge

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SYDNEY — The Autism Society of Cape Breton is in the running to qualify through the first round of voting in the Aviva Community Fund Challenge.

Autism Society of Cape Breton teens are pctured on a recent outing.

The top 90 projects after voting ends on Oct. 14 will qualify for the second round of voting, which runs from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4.

The autism society is seeking to establish an after-school program for children with autism and other special needs.

Society fundraising co-ordinator Shauna Jacobs said she’s constantly writing grant proposals to organizations, but thought this was an ideal way to approach funding for an after-school program.

“We definitely need the funding from them for the after-school program to go ahead,” Jacobs said Wednesday.

“I’ve written grants and proposals to help with money, as well, but we haven’t heard back yet so we thought we’d try this to see if we could get somewhere.”

Autism Cape Breton, located in the Southend Community Centre, focuses on programs for pre-teens and teenagers living with autism.

It’s a parent-led organization that was established in 1978 as a non-profit organization. A volunteer board of directors that oversee its day-to-day operations governs the society.

Jacobs said the programs have been designed to help individuals living with autism adapt to social and recreational environments.

If the society makes it through the third round of voting, the merits of the idea will be judged by a panel, which could grant them as much as $150,000 in cash.

In February, the Undercurrent Youth Centre in Glace Bay won Aviva’s grand prize of $130,000.

Jacobs said many parents are have difficulty finding care for their child after school is let out for the day.

If the autism society wins, Jacobs said the money would go toward having four staff members operate an after-school program five days a week.

She said the program would be open to elementary school-aged children from Monday to Thursday, while Friday would be set aside for high school students who may want help with homework or need mentoring.

The centre could support about 10 special-needs children because most of them would require one-on-one attention from staff, she added.

She said the addition of volunteers would likely allow more children access the program.

“If we could get some really solid volunteers then we might be able to allow more children in the program who don’t require one-to-one support, and just need a place to stay until their parents get off work.”

Votes can be registered at the following website, www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf17185. However, as people must log in to vote, it only allows one vote per person per day.

Organizations: Southend Community Centre, Undercurrent Youth Centre

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Glace Bay

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