SOUTH RICHMOND HILL, Queens (PIX11) — What a glorious day for a walk in the park, any park in our area. But on a beautiful Sunday, there was a particularly beautiful walk in a park in Queens to raise awareness for autism and developmental disabilities.
More than 100 people, men, women and children, some with developmental disabilities, some without, marched for more than two hours circling Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park in South Richmond Hill.
Their goal; to raise awareness for those with Autism and other special needs.
This March was organized by two women who know firsthand about the issue.
“15 years ago when my son was diagnosed, I cried many tears I was embarrassed, ashamed, and now he is my joy and inspiration,” Sherry Algredo, walk organizer, told PIX11 News.
“We want everybody to realize that they are part of a community and should not be made fun of not be called names,” Janet Forte, walk organizer, told PIX11 News. “But you do everything that we do.”
This neighborhood is primarily an immigrant community where organizers say parents often don’t understand fully when their child is given a special-needs diagnosis or an IEP, which stands for an individualized education program.
“There are programs, and there is funding for people with autism and other learning disabilities,” Harpreet Singh Tour, former president of the Sikh Cultural Society,” told PIX11 News. “This day will go a long way in raising awareness.”
Many say this rally will go a long way to let those parents know there are many working on the state and city level to increase funding for special needs children and adults.
“Once we’ve identified the issue of autism awareness, it’s all about resources, funding and policy,” State Senator Joseph Addabbo, District 15 Democrat, told PIX11 News. “It’s a beautiful picture of how we will help people and their families with autism.”
The chair of the New York City Council on Health, Lynn Schulman also attended this walk.
“We will be talking about how New York City public schools can do more to help kids with autism,” Schulman said.