2023 was a expansive year for the Autism Society Greater New Orleans. Every one of our program areas saw increased numbers of engagement and access. Every year, we strive to better serve Autistic individuals and their families in our service area, and we are constantly re-evaluating and adapting our programs and services based on the needs we identify. At the beginning of 2023, we promised to expand our Family Outings program, as well as focus on expanding our inclusive holiday events. I am proud to report that we doubled our number of family outings, and added a new annual inclusive holiday event to our calendar, our inclusive egg hunt. Our Inclusive Halloween Party had over 300 attendees, and our Sensory-Friendly Santa served 46 participants with a 99% photo success rate.
In 2023, we also greatly expanded our Vaccine Education Initiative through grants awarded by the AAP, AUCD, and USAging. Compared to 2022 we exponentially increased our impact through this program and were able to train 55 healthcare providers at 7 sites on Autism and our accessible vaccination model Lack of accessibility of care is a serious barrier to health for Autistic individuals, and our organization will continue to seek out initiatives, funding, and programs to participate in that help us to break down barriers, and increase access to inclusive care environments. This funding also allowed us to translate 13 documents into both Spanish and Vietnamese including our Symbol Communication Boards and Visual schedules so that our adaptive equipment is accessible to underserved members of our community.
Thanks to our partnership with Morrison Law, we were able to help 18 families get a FREE General Power of Attorney. This crucial document helps caregivers ensure they have someone to make decisions on their behalf in a crisis, and also provides Adult Autistic individuals a less restrictive method to ensure a trusted support person can help them make decisions in their lives without surrendering their rights through interdiction. We appreciate Morrison Law’s commitment to our mission, and hope to connect with more annual partners this year to increase access to these kinds of essential, specialized services and information.
The Autism Society Greater New Orleans is thankful to our donors and sponsors for being the connection, and allowing us to provide vital supports, programming and services to our local area. Because of your support we can continue to develop resources, create new programs, and advocate for inclusive policies and practices at the local and state level, and build connections, not only to resources, but also to each other. It is clear from the consistent increases in people accessing our events and programs that the need in our area is great. It is vital that we continue to increase our funding to continue to meet the needs of our community. As effective stewards, we continually strive to be responsive and accessible to societal needs, challenges, and opportunities that arise. Through the work of our affiliate, individuals and families can connect with each other, with resources, and with supports and services so that they may live full, vibrant, self-actualized lives. Thank you to all the individuals, families, businesses, and community partners that have played a crucial role in fulfilling our mission and positively impacting the lives of so many.
The connection is you.
Claire Tibbetts, RKT