This week a group of high school kids asked Autism Speaks to send someone out to talk to them about autism. How cool, right? They wanted to learn more! And my "more," I mean, "at all." Of the 42 kids in that room with me, ONE of them even knew what autism was.
Newsflash: 1 in 150 kids are being diagnosed with autism in the United States. In the UK it's estimated that the numbers are more like 1 in 67. We need, *NEED* to educate the masses.
So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to teach these kids about autism and what it looks like and I encouraged them to go tell 10 people about what we talked about and make the information viral. I mean, Comic-Con and Twilight are trending topics on Twitter and yet autism is not? Really?
The reason I am attached to the walk is because, it's a day for all families to join together as one. When we can bring our kids and let them scream and throw tantrums and NO ONE CARES. No one even looks over at you, because their kid is doing the same thing! It's a day when we can just all be together and support each other and raise awareness and be PROUD of our autistic kids and proud of ourselves for surviving one day to the next. It's a good feeling.
There's also that other dirty little reason that no one wants to talk about...and that is the raising money piece of it. Yuck, my least favorite part. But one that has to be done. Even though Toni Braxton and Ernie Els donate their time to do PSA's for Autism Speaks, unfortuneley NBC and the like don't donate air time. Now, this is just one of the zillions of things that AS does, but I'm telling you, more people say to me, "I saw that commercial with Toni Braxton.." than you can imagine. And THAT is awareness. THAT is spreading the word.
Of course Autism Speaks is really more about science and research and figuring out solutions. They have made amazing strides and I'm lucky to say I live in Nashville because AS gives millions of dollars to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, which was recently named an ATN site(Autism Treatment Network) thanks largely in part to grants from Autism Speaks. It's nice to see the money come back to a local organization that helps many local families as well as performing large scale research programs that help thousands. It's all good stuff.
So having said alllllllllllllll of that......... this year, I decided that living in "Music City USA," we had to tie music into this somehow. So... together with Rose Music Group (a fabulous special needs music education provider) I'm hosting a benefit concert.
Because I don't have enough going on, right?
But, as I've mentioned before... I can't stop.
So here are the deets! ROCK THE WALK Saturday, August 1 at The Nashville Palace. Featuring Rissi Palmer, (that's her singing "No Air") The Rust, Ashley Ray, Bethany Anne, Britten (who recorded with my boyfriend John Legend!), Brinn Black, and Rick Seibold. And remember the total cutie from TLC's While You Were Out? Evan Farmer? He's hosting. Because he hearts Autism Speaks. And a very, very special performace by Katie Chance. Katie is 11 years old and has autism. She's going to get a post of her own because last time I saw her she brought me to tears. Watch this one, people, she's going to go far. 7:30pm. $30.
Here's the best part. Everyone involved with this concert has donated their time and donated their space and donated their services, so 100% of that $30 ticket price goes directly back to the TN Walk Now for Autism AND Rose Music Group.
Why Rose Music Group? Because Tatia Rose is developing an autism music education DVD which she will then give to families FOR FREE. Wow. Music is an absolutely amazing and essential way for autistic children to express themselves. This is a wayyyyyyyy cool program!
It's important work. It's important to spread the word. It's important to educate and raise awareness. So I hope you'll help me. And for those of you in TN, I hope you'll join me at the concert! It's going to be a GREAT night for a GREAT cause!