FUN Group Ramping Up Autism Awareness Month Activities

Published: Mar 31, 2022 04:12 PM

The local autism support nonprofit Families United in Newtown (FUN) is planning several activities for April, which is Autism Awareness Month.

The organization, founded by residents Linda and Duane Jones to honor their late son, Tyler, has been a leading community organization promoting activities and social opportunities for not only young people on the spectrum, but also by providing respite for their families and caregivers with the support of dozens of Newtown High School National Honors Society volunteers.

The first event is happening April 2 — World Autism Day — and it capitalizes on the “Light It Up Blue” theme while taking into account the upcoming Easter holiday. FUN is hosting a Flashlight Egg Hunt in and around the Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street. All attendees to this free event will receive a blue flashlight to help them find glow-in-the-dark prize eggs and other goodies.

The activity, which runs from 6:30 to 8 pm, will also offer refreshments and pizza before the hunt begins. Participants must pre-register by visiting bit.ly/FUNegghunt — and are asked to bring their own collection basket.

Leading up to and through April, FUN has been collaborating with Newtown High School students to raise funds for autism research by challenging each class to sell the most chocolate treats and other autism awareness and FUN accessories. While NHS seniors are wrapping up their challenge week April 1, Juniors will pick it up from there through April 8. Then, under-class members willstart with their challenge goal April 18-25.

FUN and its supporters are also asking everyone to wear blue to work or school on April 1 or anytime during the month to show off their autism awareness pride.

Between April 1-9, residents can get in on the “Light It Up Blue” initiative by displaying blue lighting inside or outside homes and businesses. They can also head to CH Booth Library to view FUN’s month-long awareness display, and pop in to Bagel Delight at 30 Church Hill Road and order up one, or a dozen blue bagels to mark the occasion.

Between April 10-17, Stanziato’s Restaurant at 35 Lake Avenue Ext, Danbury, is holding a FUNdraiser featuring specialty food and drinks prepared especially for Autism Awareness Month.

The week of April 18, visitors to the FUN Facebook site can help in “Celebrating FUN Abilities” by viewing videos of FUN member youths telling their own stories.

Between April 25-30, NHS student Katie Rowan will be tapped to read the children’s book “Just Help” on FUN’s Facebook site.

And the month’s activities will culminate with FUN’s annual Benefit Concert April 30 featuring a mix of young adult and adult musicians and performers from off and on the spectrum.

Returning to the theme of “Disney Dazzle,” performers will present their interpretations of classic and familiar Disney hits. Attendees will also enjoy dinner, dancing, and a chance to take home some great raffle prizes.

The concert and related activities are also happening at the Newtown Congregational Church beginning at 4 pm. Get tickets now by visiting bit.ly/FUNConcert — or link to tickets at familiesunitedinnewtown.org.

FUN offers supervised social and recreational activities for young people with developmental disabilities as well as those on the autism spectrum, while helping to raise awareness about autism and funds to support autism research. The Joneses — parents to Lindsey, Austin, and Tyler — turned the tragedy of Tyler’s untimely passing in 2009 into a positive living memorial for their son to help bring special needs families together in a safe and welcoming place.

Any and all are welcome at FUN meetings. The organization is also grateful for tax-deductible donations to help underwrite the expense of activities, which are all offered free to participants.

As part of Autism Awareness Month, the CH Booth Library is featuring a display on behalf of Families United in Newtown, a local nonprofit that supports youths on the spectrum and their families. —Bee Photo, Hicks

Craig Ashurst, who owns and operates Newtown’s Ashurst Academy of Irish Dance, and is a former lead Riverdance performer, directs a number of Families United in Newtown (FUN) members for a lesson of their own during a March 19 meeting at the Newtown Congregational Church The activities were part of the local autism support nonprofit’s latest meeting as its founder, Linda Jones, and volunteers prepare for April Autism Awareness month events that will culminate in FUN’s Annual Benefit Concert April 30. —Bee Photos, Voket

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