After being inspired by a seminar presented by the Autism Centre of Excellence (ACE) last year, Rayeleneand Glen Williams decided to sign up for the Gran Fondo charity ride. This four day cycling event will travel from Noosa Heads to Byron Bay in August covering some of the best cycling roads in the area including the Noosa hinterland and Tamborine Mountain.

The primary purpose of this event is to raise money and awareness for those that deal with Autism. Their group will be fundraising for research at the Autism Centre of Exellence (ACE).

Autism affects more than 1 in every 100 children born today and there is no known cure.

While we are fortunate to have a healthy commitment to finding a cure, we believe there is a real lack of help and support for families, teachers and care givers of children with Autism as they deal with day to day life.

Through this ride their team hopes to raise at least $50,000 for the Autism Centre of Excellence at Griffith University.

The money raised will enable the team at the Griffith University Autism Centre of Excellence (ACE) to develop, implement, and evaluate transition management training programs for parents, professionals and young people with autism. These programs will enable children and young people with autism to manage the changes and transitions that are an inevitable part of life.

ACE are developing an innovative program combining professional development sessions and a virtual training and mentoring site that will enable parents of children with ASD, school leaders and educators to engage in partnerships to develop comprehensive and effective educational environments and educational programs in which children with ASD are valued and supported to achieve high quality outcomes.

There is a lack of programs like this nationally and internationally, particularly for school-age children with ASD. Governments focus on programs for school staff despite the acknowledged need for consistent program implementation across home, school and community. Research shows that the engagement of parents is key to the success of individuals with ASD across the lifespan and parents are the most consistent and important factor in the child’s life as they progress to being able to self-advocate.

Rayeleneand Glen Williams’ son Mitchel, now nearly 10 years old was diagnosed with autism at 4 years of age. Mitchel is a much loved member of their family and like most 10 year old boys loves, riding, climbing and swimming. Mitchel still has very limited verbal communication skills and consequently finds many day to day activities quite challenging and particularly activities that involve large groups of people.

They have been blessed with the help and support of friends, family and teachers, however through his time at school, Rayeleneand Glen Williams have seen a real lack in the education and support that is provided to teachers, parents and caregivers on how to best manage and help children with autism get the most out of their education in school and at home.

They hope that this ride will help raise awareness and funds to provide children like their son Mitchel with better opportunities in life through an education that is provided with greater knowledge and understanding.