Temecula’s Diversity Club shows strong support at Autism Awareness Walk
Medical, business and technical program students on SJVC’s Temecula campus came away from the April 2nd two-mile walk for Autism Awareness with more than a good feeling about helping a worthy cause. They learned about the importance of community support and how participation in such events can better prepare them for their chosen careers.
“Volunteerism goes toward your skills and adds to your professionalism,” says Sayne Suarez del Sola, Respiratory Therapy student and Diversity Club President. “Your (future) employers can see that you are involved and how much dedication you have to your profession.”
The Diversity Club is always looking for ways to support the community and chose this walk for both professional and personal reasons. Not only do they see volunteerism as a good way to strengthen communication, planning and service skills, they also get to support causes that affect themselves and many others.
“The whole point of our Diversity Club is to go out and do things that our students are passionate about or want to bring awareness to,” says John Hall, Dean of Student Services.
Sayne’s 7-year-old son Cameron has mild-to-moderate autism, and she was excited to take him to this event that attracts many other families with autistic children. “I kind of shared my passion for autism with the (Diversity) Club and found another member has a family member in the autism spectrum.”
The Club was on board and held a bake sale that raised more than $200 for Our Nicholas Foundation, the primary beneficiary of the Autism Awareness Walk. Our Nicholas Foundation’s mission is to increase autism awareness and provide support for education, work opportunities, therapies, families and social programs that serve children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
More than a dozen SJVC staff, faculty and students participated in the Walk that started at 9:00 a.m. at the Leoness Winery. Most of the participants completed the walk by 10:00 a.m. and stayed to enjoy the game and food booths that were open until noon. Many services and information tables were set up as well to help those who were interested in understanding more about autism and the available resources for individuals affected and their families.
“Kids on the autism spectrum (mild-to-severe) did a great job and completed the whole thing,” says Sayne, who brought both Cameron and his older sister, Braelynn. “I was surprised because they are kids, and I didn’t think they had the patience to complete it.”
It was exhilarating for families to share in something that had such a positive effect on so many, and boosted self-confidence among the kids.
“The highlight of my day was when I saw the kids complete the whole course,” says Sayne. “It was challenging for a lot of them, and some were not as mobile as others. For them to complete that, was incredible.”
SJVC support was front and center. “There were people there from the Respiratory Therapy program like Dominique McKenzie and George De Leon, and some in the Diversity Club who also brought their kids out there, too,” says Sayne. “And lots of staff and faculty. That made me feel good.”
Sayne did not expect to see such a show of support from instructors and staff. “They showed how much they really care about whatever events we’re trying to do, supporting us and the community. They are really out there for our education.”
The Diversity Club is open to all SJVC students, staff and faculty. “We are always looking for new members,” says John. “The Club did a great job with this opportunity. Our next big project is working with a local homeless shelter.”
Temecula is fortunate to have a college campus organization and students, staff and faculty so dedicated to volunteerism and the many benefits it both gives and receives.