Pictured: Lisa Thompson (ASGA) and Meghan Doran (Summit Metro Parks)
Summit Metro Parks became the first facility to earn the Autism Society of Greater Akron’s (ASGA) “Autism Friendly” seal at a family event held to mark the occasion.
Laurie Cramer, Executive Director of ASGA, said, “We are so proud to be here today to apply the Autism Friendly seal to the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, declaring Summit Metro Parks “Autism Friendly.” Over the past year, ASGA has worked with Metro Parks to train 70 staff members –including park rangers, volunteers, program, and customer service representatives – in recognizing the characteristics of autism and how best to support and include individuals and families when they visit the park. Our program also encourages AFC locations to display signage so other patrons are aware that people visiting may display the characteristics or symptoms of autism and that all are welcome.”
ASGA’s Autism Friendly Communities program was launched in 2017, when Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro declared Summit County committed to being autism friendly, the first county in Ohio to do so. Families were invited to the park for a Family Fun event that included a packet of bird seed, a scavenger hunt guide for a family hike, creating a craft and refreshments.
Cramer continued, “One of the most exciting things about this program is when we see it in action. The park shared with us that one of the rangers has already used his training, telling us, “One of our rangers helped a gentleman recently and was able to apply the information that he learned at your training to resolve a situation. The timing of the training really assisted him. Great job getting us set up with this successful program!!
“For us,” Cramer concluded, “it doesn’t get any better than that. We thank everyone at Summit Metro Parks for their open hearts and minds in working with us to become autism friendly. Every step we take helps our community be more inclusive, something we all want so everyone can enjoy what our community has to offer.”
Visit here to learn more about Summit Metro Parks’ Autism Friendly commitment.