A group of Chinese-American families in the San Francisco Bay area recently opened a family support center that offers support services and social gatherings for families of children with autism and other disabilities including cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome. The Friends of Children with Special Needs Center was the subject of a good newspaper report by The MediaNews newspaper chain. You can read the story here which ran yesterday in the Contra Costa Times.
The group started in 1996 as a family support group; over the years, the families raised $2.5 million to open a 6,000-square-foot center last summer in Fremont, Calif. The center uses grants, government funds and private donations to offer dance classes, social gatherings, parent support groups, after-school classes and more. The list of programs is impressive; you can find it here. While Chinese culture is in the air here, it's a multicultural crowd with Hispanic and other families represented, the newspaper reports. A representative from the Autism Society of America says she believes the center is the first of its kind.
The San Jose Mercury News produced a video visiting the center and Anna Wang, one of the center's founders and leaders, whose teen-aged son Lawrence has autism. You can see the video by clicking here. (It took a while for it to start on my computer, so you might have to be patient.)
If you have a few minutes, take a look because it's an empowering story for parents. Here's a group of families who started with nothing but each other and have built a big, important resource. Anna Wang says: "We wanted to build a model that shows a society that is kind and accepting to the special needs individual."