Autism in Long Beach: Fun For Everyone, In A Bully Free Zone

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The sounds of laughter, music, and skateboards striking the pavement filled the air at the Bully Free Zone 2 Picnic on June 3, held at Houghton Park in Long Beach. Coordinated by Jane Tipton of Autism in Long Beach, this event was a welcome relief for many parents, especially those raising an autistic child. Jane and her trusty group of volunteers pulled off yet another amazing event this year.

With a wide variety of vendors, from ASK Long Beach to local craft businesses, there was so much to see and do for parents, children, and volunteers alike. A DJ kept the guests entertained and the skaters pumped up to perform tricks that had the crowd gasping at times during the event. Moxi Skate Shop Team put on a performance that proved girls can keep up with the boys in terms of skate tricks, and then some! Their brightly colored costumes and fun tricks kept the crowd entertained in the skate park, while other skaters continued practicing their own tricks on the other side. It was a visual feast for everyone there.

Vendors such as JJ’s Kupkakes and the Fresh Fries Truck kept guests munching on delicious treats. Squeeze Collective had art projects for kids of all ages, while Kim McClain of McClain Advocacy had chalk art right in front of her booth. The variety of business and craft vendors meant there was a little something for everyone. Aprons for Autism sold handmade aprons, can holders, and other Autism Awareness items. McClain Advocacy had everything from rubber awareness bands to keychain lanyards, all designed to help show your support. Autism Knows Anarchy sold t-shirts. There were a variety of books, including a just released charity memoir entitled My Work Of Heart. Whether it was Tupperware or handmade quilts, the vendors were all there to sell their items, network, and show their support for an amazing cause.

There was also a great batch of community organizations, both Long Beach based and beyond. LB Cinematheque and Catalyst Network of Communities, two well respected and well known Long Beach organizations, were out to promote their many upcoming events. Hub City Autism Network was promoting their upcoming Back To School Resource Fair 2 and their organization. AbilityFirst had display boards promoting their organization and their many programs that serve children and adults with disabilities. Louise Sattler from Signing Families spoke with many families about her programs and even had freebies available for guests. The Autism Youth Sports League spoke to vendors and guests alike to promote their organization, which is the first sports league in California that offers traditional sports programs designed for children on the Autism Spectrum. Happy HeARTists had a craft supply fundraiser booth with everything from stickers to handmade items, all to raise funds for scrapbook kits for patients and their families.

From authors to organizations, there was plenty of information for guests.

Children were able to enjoy activities such as “Pseudo” Wrestling, the very fun Sumo Wrestling suits, two jumpers, art projects, skateboarding lessons, a photobooth, face painting and more! Personally, I couldn’t resist getting hearts along one side of my face! Long Beach Skate Company, Ganga Skateboard Company, and other companies provided plenty of prizes to entice skateboarders to show off their best moves during contests throughout the day. The first 50 children received helmets and skateboards provided by the Tony Hawk Foundation, and were then treated to skateboarding lessons right there at the skate park. RedEye Media Inc, a Long Beach based printing company, made the awesome shirts that volunteers and guests were proudly wearing all day.

Whether you attended the event as a family raising a child with autism, a guest, a volunteer, or a vendor, there was so much to see and do at this event. It was a great way for the community to come together and celebrate the triumphs of life, and not the setbacks. Jane and her team did an amazing job this year, and it’ll only get better and bigger each year.

About Heather Crow Nelson
Heather Crow Nelson is a mom & wife currently living in Lakewood. She is the General Manager for a Long Beach e-commerce store, Marilyn's Fashions. In addition, she is the charity crafter/owner of Brianne's Basics, founder of Happy HeARTists, and published author. Heather's first article was published at the tender age of 12, and since then she has been published both locally and nationally.

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