First Ever “Walk for Autism Awareness Month” at the EPCC Valle Verde Campus
STORY AND PHOTOS BY SEBASTIAN ORRANTIA
Members of the EPCC Center for Students with Disabilities carrying the banner at the front of the crowd in front of the Student Services building April 14.
Students and teachers alike joined the Center for Students with Disabilities for the first-ever “Walk for Autism Awareness Month” at the EPCC Valle Verde campus on April 14. Marie Martinez, an EPCC student and a part of the program Project Hire, suggested the idea for the walk since April is Autism Awareness Month.
The walk began in front of the Cafeteria Annex, circled around B building and the Student Services building, and ended in front of the Art and Science Technology building. Parts of the crowd included members of the psychology club, along with their advisor, Psychology professor Ruben Franco. “We thought that this would be a great way to show support for other departments and the diversity of students we have here on campus,” said Professor Franco.
Among them was Art Professor Sarelah Aguilar, who commented on the importance of awareness, saying she has students with Autism and would like to find different tools to teach these students properly. Once the crowd arrived at the AST Building, John Estrada and Marie Martinez both gave speeches thanking the students and teachers for joining the event.
Their intentions in organizing this walk were met well by students Leonardo Sandoval and Ivan Mendoza, who were both asked to come by others involved. “Not a lot of people know a lot about Autism…I’m not sure if it’s a hard subject or anything to speak about but I think it’s pretty cool to raise awareness… it’s all about inclusivity, to be open to everybody,” said Sandoval.
Marie Martinez thanking the crowd for their support after the walk in front of the AST building April 14.
This idea of inclusivity and awareness is shared with John Estrada, the recruitment transition and training coordinator for the Center for Students with Disabilities. Crediting this event to Marie Martinez, Estrada spoke on how crucial awareness is since the center he is a part of can only help students who self-identify themselves with disabilities.
Whether it be a permanent or temporary disability like a broken arm, he says the center is happy to help anyone, but the student must decide to use their services. Estrada says, “I am hoping that this event, this walk, maybe made some members of the community a bit more aware of what we do at the center of students with disabilities, and especially with project Hire.”
Sarelah Aguilar (L) and Ruben Franco posing in front of B building while in the "Walk for Autism Awareness Month" April 14.
The “Project Hire” that Estrada mentions is a program that Marie Martinez is a part of, which is a part of the center for students with disabilities. Alejandra Mendoza is the manager of this program, and Estrada says it focuses on people who cannot really pursue an academic pathway, so project hire focuses on technical certifications to prepare these students for a career.For more information on the Valle Verde Center for Students with Disabilities and their services, their offices are in Room 1135 in building C, and their phone number is (915) 831-2244.