The push to promote inclusive activities in Greater Sudbury is taking another step forward as the mind behind autism-friendly sports night will be launching an official website for the event on March 25.
Sara Kitlar-Pothier has been fighting on the frontlines for autism supports since the Ford government announced sweeping changes to the Ontario Autism Program last February.
The push for needs-based funding has been an uphill battle for autism parents in Sudbury and across Ontario, but in the meantime Kitlar-Pothier has been doing her part to provide an opportunity for autistic children in Sudbury to get out and get active.
Autism-friendly sports night saw tremendous success in its pilot year last summer, with as many as 50 children showing up to the Coniston Community Arena once a week to take part in an array of autism-friendly activities.
The program is set to reconvene for another season this summer, and Kitlar-Pothier has been organizing one-off events such as a dance and movement program that will be held at The Dynamic Room dance studio this weekend.
The autism-friendly sports night website will be up and running in a couple months and will serve as a resource for parents looking for activities for their children, register for programs, as well as provide a place to share their own input for activities and events they'd like to see in their community.
Before the website can launch however, it needs a logo, and that's where Kitlar-Pothier is extending the invitation to the autism community to help design a logo that represents who they are and what autism-friendly sports night is all about.
"Submissions can be either hand drawn or created with a program, whatever works best for them. They can be scanned and emailed to me or submitted on Facebook and by March 1 I'll pick the winner," said Kitlar-Pothier.
The rules for the logo design contest are simple: entrants must be between the ages of two - 18 and be on the autism spectrum; the logo must contain the colours from the neurodiversity symbol and that's it, the rest is up to the imagination of the contestants.
"I'm involving the autistic community in creating programming, as well as volunteering and working with the kids," said Kitlar-Pothier, who explained that this was the same approach she took when she decided to involve the autistic community in the design of her website's logo.
"I'm not autistic, my advocacy has always come from my son, but I've always reached out to the community, that's been the most important thing to me is to have programs created for autistic people by autistic people," said Kitlar-Pothier.
"To give them that opportunity, I'm reaching out to (autism) groups all over Ontario, this is something that's fun for the kids, but something that they can get involved with as well."
Regardless of whose submission is chosen as the autism-friendly sports night logo, Sara says she will sharing the work of everyone who enters.
"My goal is to put the pictures up on the website and the Facebook page to promote these autistic artists," she said.
"Ultimately I think I'll be the one to pick the winner but I want to share all of them. I want something that is genuine, meaningful and represents the community as a whole and represents what I'm trying to do with autism-friendly sports night."