COMPTON — Before 2011, parents of autistic children in Compton said they had to drive as far as Pasadena, the west side or the San Fernando Valley to attend a therapy session or an event to raise awareness for the disability.
Now, six years after Consuelo Evans, a mother with an autistic son, started her nonprofit Hub City Autism Network, Compton will host its first ever autism walk from 7 a.m. to noon, July 15.
The “Walkism for Autism” is 1.3 miles and begins in front of the Sheriff’s Youth Activity League, 700 N. Alameda St. Evans said she hopes between 400 and 500 people will attend.
“Autism can affect any family and many people get in this situation and they feel alone,” said Romalis Bougere, a dad who has attended other events with the organization. “They don’t realize there’s a whole community behind them.”
Bougere said many children with autism possess high energy levels, and his son Roman, 13, is no exception. The two are looking forward to the walk.
The event will include a disc jockey and a performance from Kerry Fenster, who writes songs specifically for special needs children. It is free and open to the public.
In addition to vendors, representatives from the American Advocacy Group, South Central Los Angeles Regional Center and USC plan to attend.
Evans said she started her organization in response to the lack of resources in her community. She also hosts a swim club in the summers on Saturday mornings for children and adults with special needs. Other Hub City Autism Network events include trips to the bowling alley, hiking and beach outings.
“I enjoy networking with other parents there and being in an environment where my kids aren’t getting stared at and inviting unsolicited comments,” said Summer Washington, a mother of two autistic sons ages 14 and 9.
Washington set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the organization. She set a goal for $1,000 by Saturday and has so far collected $600.
If there was something she could impart to the community about the disability, Washington said it would be that “every individual with autism is different. No two are the same. A family needs love and support. Having children with autism is not an easy road, but it’s so rewarding when they make progress.”
Her voice broke when she described Hub City Autism Network as “like our family.”
For information about the walk and other events call (424) 244-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.