This April, Awesome Autistic Ogden is back in person and bigger than ever with four fun and inclusive community events to celebrate Autism Appreciation Month. The Awesome Autistic Art Stroll will kick off the month-long series of events at Ogden’s First Friday Art Stroll, followed by the Rise for Autism fundraiser at the Daily Rise Coffee, a large community event and a community conversation with the Ogden Police Department.
Awesome Autistic Ogden, run by the Bernal Badassery Foundation, was launched in 2018 after the nonprofit’s founder, Stacy Bernal, found autism walks taking place in cities across the state. , from Logan and Salt Lake City to Orem, but not to Ogden.
Bernal has been an active participant in the Ogden community for many years. She is also an author, speaker, coach at See Stacy Speak LLC and mother of an autistic child. That first year, she took to social media, and three days later, 20 people showed up at the corner of 25th Street and Washington Boulevard for Ogden’s first Autism Awareness Walk.
The following year, Bernal hosted a larger event at Weber State that drew 300 attendees and a wave of donations, leading her to establish the nonprofit 501(c)(3) Bernal Baddassery Foundation in 2019 to help families and individuals finding their way across the autism spectrum and neurodiversity.
All proceeds from this year’s Rise for Autism at the Daily Rise Coffee will go to the family of Izzy Tichenor, a 10-year-old black autistic child who committed suicide in November last year, a month after the publication by the U.S. Department of Justice report on a “culture of racism” within the Davis school district where she was a student and severely bullied, according to the family. In response to the tragedy, Utah lawmakers this month passed Bill 428 that requires school officials to collect data on children who are bullied.
Daily Rise Coffee is donating all funds from purchases of the star drink Caramel Rise to Izzy’s family during the Rise for Autism event on Saturday, April 2. Local realtors Crystal Guillen (RE/MAX) and Sarah Schelin (Ridgeline Realty) are providing donation matching for the total proceeds. Community members can also support the effort by purchasing $5 tickets for a raffle opportunity on the day of the event.
“We want to do something to let her family know that Izzy’s life mattered and that she had an impact in our community,” Bernal said.
Izzy’s story inspired Bernal to take action beyond the family fundraising event. She is now a candidate for Ogden School Board District 2, as she completes her final year on the Ogden Diversity Commission. “After Izzy died and felt so angry and sad, I knew I had to do something to hopefully get to a place where something like this could never happen again,” he said. she declared.
The community conversation with the Ogden Police Department will include Bernal, fellow Diversity Commissioner Jessica Adams, Ogden Deputy Chief of Police Jake Sube and Juliana Woodbury, Principal of Canyon View Elementary, “to talk about the search and statistics that show people with disabilities are more likely to die in cases where the police are involved and what OPD does to recognize disabilities,” Bernal said. But she’s not trying to point fingers. “I think that it’s important to have this conversation to build a bridge,” Bernal said, acknowledging that many members of the police department are “really great people.” The conversation will take place on Zoom and Facebook Livestream.
Bernal gathered 30 vendors, two food trucks (Fry Me To The Moon and Nacho Average Food Truck) and a small petting zoo for the big outdoor community party at EnableUtah. “We’re doing this to promote love and kindness around autism, neurodiversity and disabilities, but we want to emphasize that it’s for everyone,” she said. All are welcome to come and learn at the free event.
Although Awesome Autistic Ogden events happen in April, Bernal stresses the need to help spread kindness, love, and acceptance throughout the year. “I think about it all day every day,” she said.
Still concerned about her son’s bullying and social isolation, Bernal’s worries turned to fears about his safety and “not having a target on his back when he leaves the house”. Awesome Autistic Ogden and the Bernal Badassery Foundation are his way of creating a safer, kinder, and more inclusive world for everyone with autism, neurodiversity, or disability.
“I want to help make our community better and this is one way to do that,” she said.
Donations for Awesome Autistic Ogden or the Bernal Badassery Foundation can be made through Venmo @bbf501c3. To follow facebook.com/AwesomeAutisticOgden for event details and information.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
All Awesome Autistic Ogden events are free and open to all community members.
Stunning Autistic Artistic Ride
Art exhibition with works made by autistic students.
friday april 1st
6 p.m.-9 p.m.
Open Studio Night at the Monarch
455 25th street.
stand up for autism
A fundraiser for the benefit of Izzy Tichenor’s family, $5 raffle tickets.
Saturday April 2 (World Autism Day)
Daily Rise Coffee
2865 E.Washington Blvd.
Activities, vendors, food trucks, petting zoo, EnableUtah tours.
saturday april 16
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
535 W. Stockman Way, Suite A
Community Conversation with Ogden Police Department
With Stacy Bernal, Jake Sube and Juliana Woodbury.
Thursday April 21
Zoom and live broadcast on Facebook