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June 4, 2008 > Bay Area Walk Now for autism on June 7

Bay Area Walk Now for autism on June 7

Submitted By Alex Bowie

When Cathy Hirata, a classically trained musician, first opened the "Where Music Begins" teaching center in Pleasanton more than six years, she had no idea what an impact she would make on families with children who fall on the autism spectrum.

Cathy's center employs the novel Simply Music methodology, a kinesthetic approach that breaks down music into basic concepts like shapes, patterns and sentences. This "less is more" approach has proven to be an especially effective teaching technique for special needs students, and with diagnoses of autism on the rise in the Bay Area, in recent years Cathy has successfully taught piano to many children with autism.

Over very short periods of time, Cathy has seen children with autism master classical, jazz and blues pieces - becoming successful not only at the piano, but simultaneously improving speech, cognitive skills, fine motor skills and other areas of their lives. "Where Music Begins" also generates a strong parent community - providing links to local services and bringing families with similar experiences together.

Inspired by this success and her personal experiences with students with autism, Cathy has put together a Bay Area WALK NOW for Autism team. Walk Now for Autism is a unique fundraising campaign culminating in an inspiring day-long event for the 1 in 150 children diagnosed with autism and their supporters. One of Cathy's students a thirteen year-old girl with autism, has composed and will perform the opening song for the walk, taking place June 7th at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

Thousands of walkers - including individuals with autism, their families and friends - are expected to join together to raise much-needed funds for critical scientific research and to increase awareness about a growing health crisis. All proceeds from the event benefit Autism Speaks, the nation's leading autism advocacy organization.

Last year's event raised more than $550,000 with over 3,000 participants. This year's goal is to break $700,000.

Walk Now for Autism is a unique fundraising event which creates a safe and fun day for families who are affected with autism. The day includes a 2 to 3 mile walk and Community Resource fair with educational sources, therapists, schools, recreational organizations, and creative child-friendly activities; a true "one-stop-shop" for families affected by autism.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Another child is diagnosed every 20 minutes.

Autism Speaks Annual Bay Area Walk Now for Autism
Saturday, June 7
9 a.m. registration; 10 a.m. opening ceremonies
Alameda County Fairgrounds
4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton
(415) 946-1053 / (202) 213-1643

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