We are now a few days into the new year and before we put to bed 2012, I wanted to take a look back at what a really amazing year this past one has been at Autism Empowerment.
We feel that the support of leadership within scouting units is one very important way to help scouts and their families who live daily with autism. Autism Empowerment and our Autism and Scouting Program supports not just one or two different scouting organizations but all scouting groups around the world that are looking to be more inclusive and accepting of youth who are on the autism spectrum. Scouting should be an activity where all youth regardless of ability feel they can go to have fun, make friends, learn life skills and engage socially in an accepting, enriching, inspiring and empowering atmosphere. We are proud to say that Autism and Scouting and our amazing and dedicated Autism and Scouting online community is growing, thriving and really starting to make a positive impact around the globe. There is still much work to be done but we are encouraged with they progress so far!
Autism Empowerment recently made a very large announcement about the a future new program within the Autism and Scouting program. We made the announcement on December 31st on both Autism and Scouting Radio as well as Autism Empowerment Radio that Autism Empowerment was one of just sixteen non-profits from around the United States that was just awarded a $25,000 Autism Speaks Family Grant for 2012, to be received in 2013. The generous $25,000 grant is for the expansion of our Autism and Scouting Leadership Training program and entails a lot of exciting things. The application process started in May and we heard the fabulous news in late December. We are in the process of drafting up the formal press release and we hope to be posting that in the next few days. This next year in 2013 is looking bright, however I would be remiss if I did not mention that in order to grow our programs, have full-time staff, train volunteers and create both short and long-term sustainability, we definitely still need and are asking for volunteer help and financial support from scouters, their families, the autism community and the greater community at large. So, before I share some of the positive things that we have done this past year, I personally appeal to you. We need your help to do more.
Autism Empowerment is our calling and every day we ask ourselves and we can do more, touch more people and make a positive impact around the world. We want to do more, more blogs, more radio shows, more training, more support. Please help us and if you would like to direct funds directly to the Autism and Scouting Program, in the note section, just let us know and those funds will be earmarked to help support this program.
Now, onto the positive growth and successes from this past year. The areas that we are going to look at are multi-media, training, direct unit support and individual family support.
Facebook Page and Group - In 2011, we made the choice to move from a Facebook Group which we started in 2010 to a Facebook Page. We did this in June of 2011 at the time when Autism Empowerment was formed as a non-profit. When we ended 2011, the Facebook page ended with 236 likes covering 15 countries. At the close of 2012, the Facebook Page ended at 1,209 likes (members following or page) and now serves scouts and scout leaders in over 45 nations. The Facebook Group which we first started ended 2011 with 154 members ended 2012 with 198. This group is still very active and many conversations start here and then spill over to the Page.
Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/autismandscouting
Facebook Group - http://www.facebook.com/groups/121685817883439/
For 2013 - I know most sites can get likes, but for Autism Empowerment’s Autism and Scouting Facebook page, we feel our likes are quality likes and are people that have a direct relationship with Scouting and/or who are on the Autism Spectrum. We would love to try to double these likes for 2013 and have 200 - 225 likes each from the United Kingdom and Australia. The total goal by the end of 2013 is 2,500. So tell your friends and other scout leaders and help us grow our community. Please become engaged in conversation as well as we hope to continue growing a rich, creative, supportive vibrant community.
As you have liked Autism and Scouting, we also ask you to please like and support on Facebook. the following pages as well.
Autism Empowerment Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/autismempowerment
Autism Empowerment Radio Show Page - http://www.facebook.com/autismempowermentradio
Autism and Scouting Radio Show - We launched the Autism and Scouting Radio show in July 2012,about three weeks after the launch of the Autism Empowerment Radio show. The launch of this show has been able to make a huge impact in a very short timeframe. The radio show which in on BlogTalk Radio is done live and then can be accessed via Podcast or via iTunes in archive at anytime for free.
Since late July, we have had 37 radio shows and over 12,144 listens. We have covered a wide range of educational topics. We have had many stories of inspiration. We have had a terrific line-up of guests and look forward to expanding our show slots in 2013. We have had award winning author,Jennifer Cook-O’Toole, BSA National Chair for Special Needs Tony Mei and many other outstanding and inspirational guests. Part of the radio show is dedicated to a series of interviews called “Inspiration from the Spectrum”, where we interview scouts and we celebrate their journey in scouting. We are proud of all!
Our sister station, Autism Empowerment Radio launched in June and hosted 40 shows in 2012. This station covers a wide range of topics of interest to individuals and families within the autism and Asperger communities and has featured authors, educators, medical professionals and many inspiring individuals on the autism spectrum doing their thing! Be sure to check out the Autism Empowerment radio archives for a wide range of interesting, educational, inspiring and motivational conversations. To learn more about Autism Empowerment and autism in general, please visit and listen to the Autism Empowerment Radio show as well. This is a great resource of information to learn about Autism Spectrum issues.
Our radio programming is one area in which we hope to expand but can only do so with your financial support. We want to expand but need additional funding and some type of corporate sponsorship Please help us keep this program alive and allow us to reach even more people worldwide.
Listen to the radio on your computer - www.blogtalkradio.com/autismandscoutingradio
On itunes - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/autism-scouting-radio-blog/id550043079
For 2013 - We are hoping to double the amount of shows that we had in 2012 and will continue to produce original content as well as host a variety of guests. We did some really great shows in 2012 and we hope to keep on improving. If you have suggestions, have an idea for a show or would like to be considered as an upcoming guest, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org . So the goal at Autism and Scouting Radio for 2013 is at least 75 shows. Please feel free to subscribe for free so you have easy access to current, future and past content.
Also connect and subscribe for free to Autism Empowerment Radio where my wife, Karen Krejcha hosts:
Autism Empowerment Radio - www.blogtalkradio.com/autismempowerment
Blogging - We started to blog in April of 2011 and finished the year with 27 blogs talking about a wide range of subjects that related to scouting and Autism. We continued 2012 with the blogging and ended 2012 with 34 at the Autism and Scouting blog. We also expanded the Blog site to include more resources.
Now on the Autism and Scouting Blog webpage, you will be able to find information about the different Autism and Scouting programs, worldwide resources to assist you, quick links to the Autism Empowerment website, Facebook Page as well as Twitter.
In order to support the radio program, we also launched the Autism and Scouting Radio blog. Here we did 11 different blogs. So between the blog sites, we had 45 blogs to end the year. The blog also ended 2011 with 6 followers at the end of 2012 it has risen to 18. Thank so much for all of the people supporting the blogs.
Autism and Scouting main blog - http://www.autismandscouting.blogspot.com/
Autism and Scouting Radio blog - http://www.autismandscoutingradio.blogspot.com/
For 2013 - We had really a great year of blogging and with all the other things we are doing, I would like to try to match what I did in 2012 or increase it a bit. So my goal for 2013 between the two blog sites will be 50. I will also be looking for guest bloggers. You can come follow us on Blogger as well so you don’t miss out on a single blog.
To view the Autism Empowerment Blog, you can go to the main website and click on the Blog Section. http://www.autismempowerment.org. This will be a large area of growth in 2013 as Karen really enjoys writing and is looking forward to adding lots of fresh content and guest blogs as well!
Twitter - Our Facebook Page has a direct link to our Twitter account so any posts that we have on Facebook will appear on Twitter. This is a great avenue to spread our outreach. We started 2012 with 201 followers and end the year at 391 We hope to continue to expand our Twitter following. One easy, quick and highly appreciated way you can help us do this is to retweet the posts you find interesting and share our Facebook content as well.
Twitter - @AutismScouting
For 2013 - We would again like to try to double this number and get to 800 followers by the end of the year.
To follow the Autism Empowerment Twitter Page, you can do so @AutismEmpowermt
Google+ and Google Community - Google+ and the Google Community is an area that we would like to spend more time with. Google has such a far worldwide reach and Autism Empowerment and the Autism and Scouting Program want to make sure that we can utilize all of the tools available to us. Google+ ended 2011 at 54 and will end 2012 at 183. The Google Community just started in the late fall of 2012 but we have a following of 10 already.
Google+ - https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/107766607208459963275/107766607208459963275/posts
For 2013 - The goal for Google+ is go get to 250. We know that there might be less people on Google+ and we are still working to develop this site.
Pinterest - In 2012, we just started using Pinterest. We will be using this platform to put photos of scouts where their parents have sent in stories and photos for us to use and post. We currently have 27 followers.
For 2013 - I think we can get to 75 by the end of year. Again, we understand that this site is less used but we see the value in visual tools and photos.
If you would like to volunteer to help us promote our social media efforts, just let us know!
Website - We are happy to announce that Autism Empowerment now has secured the domain names www.autismandscouting.org and www.autismandscouting.com. Neither of these sites are up and running as of yet, however as time permits and resources allow, we hope to be developing them in the coming months. We plan on having a great deal of resources, a forum and access to the Autism and Scouting support material.
While we are working on these sites, you can still get information from the Autism Empowerment homepage.
Autism Empowerment - http://www.autismempowerment.org/home/autism_and_scouting
Autism and Scouting Websites - Coming 2013
It was a banner year for training as well for Autism Empowerment and that included expanded training within the Autism and Scouting Program.
In 2011, we were invited by the BSA Cascade Pacific Council to provide training at their regional training event in November of 2011. It was so successful, we were asked to come back for 2012 and instead of the two basic classes provided the prior year, we updated the original course and added an advanced class as well. Karen Krejcha, Autism Empowerment’s Executive Director also was in the classroom teaching. We have not yet seen the comments from this training, but the conference organizer has indicated they had a ton of very positive feedback from the evaluations that were turned in and we received a lot of positive feedback in person and online. We have been asked to come back for 2013.
In addition to the training that we provided, Autism Empowerment’s Autism and Scouting Program had a display on the Midway and when we were not in the classroom, we were busy talking to scout leaders seeking help. We have made some great connections and have been asked to do Camp Training in 2013. We will keep you posted.
The training that we had developed was also given in the Chicago Area and North Carolina BSA training events.
Autism Empowerment and the Autism and Scouting Program helped co-found Vancouver and Southwest Washington's first sensory friendly Cub Scout Pack with another dedicated mom who has multiple children on the autism spectrum. This mom had attended our training at the Cascade Pacific Council Training event in the fall of 2011 and we were connected to her and her family by a the regional District Executive.
Autism Empowerment was instrumental in providing some of the starting funding as well as support by developing a Sensory Profile and assisting with other training materials that was important in the unit's success.
We helped with media support, recruitment as well as direct support of the scouts in the unit. We helped increase the number from six youths to 27 by August of 2012. In August, the unit was able to function on its own and Autism Empowerment stepped out of a direct support role. We redirected our local focus to provide sensory-friendly support training to typically operating units with the mission to spread autism acceptance throughout all different kinds of scouting environments. We are so proud of the work that we did with Cub Scout Pack 2 and cherish the friendships that our entire family made. They will always be part of the success story of the Autism and Scouting Program.
During 2012, we also were able to help individual families as well. We were able to help about dozen families find scouting connections within their geographic area. We also were able to offer a number of scholarships to help low income families access a scouting program or event.
In the fall of 2012, the Boy Scouts of America from the Cascade Pacific Council contacted Autism Empowerment and asked that both John Krejcha, the Program Director of the Autism and Scouting Program and Karen Krejcha, the Executive Director of Autism Empowerment join the Cascade Pacific Council Special Needs Committee to help in matters relating to supporting scouts of all special needs with our area of expertise of course being within the autism spectrum and sensory processing realm. Through Autism Empowerment, we have both accepted these advisory positions and look forward to helping shape policies within the council to help better support scouts on the Autism Spectrum.
We are looking to create training, programs and support resources that can be used and replicated locally, nationally and worldwide.
We are still working on branding Autism Empowerment and our four foundational pillars of Accept, Enrich, Inspire and Empower. This also includes branding of our Autism and Scouting program and our new Autism and Scouting Logo. We are not yet finished with the final version of the Autism and Scouting Logo but we have our concept. Alas, we are. Not graphic designers and although a friend and Autism Empowerment supporter did help as much as he could, we to his ability, we still have some finishing work on it and we hope to finish it early 2013. We have moved to the Fleur-de-lis with the four colors of Autism Empowerment (green - Accept, red - Enirch, orange - Inspire, purple - Empower) on puzzle pieces inside. We will be adding white outlines of the puzzle pieces, as the puzzle piece is a common symbol within the autism community. We hope to have Autism and Scouting merchandise including patches and shirts available in 2013 that will go to support the Autism and Scouting Program.
As 2012 was a banner year for the Autism and Scouting Program, 2013 looks as if it will be even bigger, especially as we use our grant money to develop Autism and Scouting Leadership training kits, host online training webinars as well as host our first Autism and Scouting Regional conference in late 2013. We will be making additions to the multi-media program, providing continued support to units that seek our help and expand programs to help all scout leaders better understand scouts they serve. The promotion of Acceptance, Enrichment, Inspiration and Empowerment will be within all the content we offer. We warmly invite you to come be a part of our positive growth! Thank you!