|EDWARD MURPHY ELEMENTARY WALKS FOR AUTISM AWARENESS|
MONTREAL, APRIL 13, 2015 – In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, Edward Murphy Elementary School in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, students, staff, and parents walked recently to spread autism awareness and support their classmates who have autism.
Students at Edward Murphy have been learning a great deal about autism over the last few weeks. Located in the north end of Montreal, Edward Murphy has two specialized classes for students with autism. Guided by principal Franca Cristiano, staff provide students with every opportunity to learn about one another and play together. They integrate students with autism into mainstream classes, and see tremendous progress.
In preparation for Autism Awareness Month, Tania Piperni, Autism Spectrum Disorders Consultant at the English Montreal School Board, presented workshops about autism to each cycle, giving students the opportunity to ask questions about autism and better understand it.
Stephanie Napolitano and Pamela D’Adamo teach the school’s two specialized classes for students with autism, and organized the autism awareness walk, which all students, teachers, and some parents participated in. Students Ralph, Italia, and Samuel like to play with their friends who have autism in the schoolyard. They see that they are just kids like anyone else. “The more you know, the better you understand,” said Italia.
In preparation for the walk, students created a life-sized image of a tree that is hanging on a wall in the school lobby. Each student contributed one puzzle piece to this tree. “These pieces symbolize the fact that we all fit together regardless of our needs,” says Napolitano. “We teach the students to be aware, accepting, and that they are a big part of this puzzle as well.”
Students came prepared for the walk dressed in blue and waving signs that shared messages about autism. They caught the attention of drivers who crossed their path, many who honked in support and appreciation.
Michael J. Cohen