This guest post is by Courtney Hindle, co-president of the Autism Speaks U chapter at George Washington University. Autism Speaks U is a program designed to support college students in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts. To start a chapter on your college campus, visit www.AutismSpeaks.org/U.
My name is Courtney Hindle, and I am a junior at George Washington University (GWU), studying political communications. I am also the current co-president of the Autism Speaks U chapter at my school. My involvement with autism began early on, when my younger brother was diagnosed and I later became a volunteer for Hunterdon Outreach Programs in my hometown.
These programs are designed to teach children with various disabilities how to play a range of sports. I remained a volunteer for the Hunterdon Outreach programs throughout high school and knew I wanted to continue my passion for helping those with autism once I came to college. When I discovered the Autism Speaks U chapter at my school I decided to join.
We have had a chapter at GWU for a year and a half now and are so thrilled with the progress we have made with this incredible organization. The overall GWU student body has been tremendously supportive of our chapter.
Whenever we are hosting events for Autism Speaks, students always stop by to talk about their personal experiences with autism and how appreciative they are for everything Autism Speaks does for raising awareness. While many students are informed about autism, there is still a large portion of the student body that doesn’t quite grasp autism. We hope that through future awareness events we will be able to reach out to those in our community that don’t quite understand and give them a better understanding of the disorder. The mission of Autism Speaks U at GWU is to raise awareness on campus about autism and Autism Speaks while also looking for volunteer opportunities for students.
Recently, our chapter raised over $2,000 for the National Walk Now for Autism Speaks and placed second out of all collegiate fundraising teams for that Walk. Leading up to the Walk, we organized several tabling events where we fundraised and registered fellow GWU students to participate in the Walk.
We have also sponsored an event hosted by George Washington University’s Disability Support Services, about “composing disability.” This symposium focused on how college students with disabilities are viewed and how teachers and students can work to address problems those with disabilities have in the school system. This was a great opportunity to have our members learn about how our school works with supporting those with disabilities and we were so honored to be one of the symposium’s sponsors.
Being a part of Autism Speaks U has been an incredible experience and our chapter cannot wait to see where we will be a year from now!