Autism Education Project: An Open Letter
Joy Degendardt, Aid for Kids Director
Duy Lyford, Autism Project Director
Wait…before we get into the details we must first take care of business and acknowledge the heart of our project, you. We want to extend a “high-five” and a “fist-bump” to all our friends and supporters. Many of you we do not know on a personal level but by your actions we know you are awesome. You are selfless and kind and we can never say “thank-you” enough for your thoughts, prayers, and contributions. Though the action is here in Vietnam we could not be here without you!
Thank you and many blessings to you all.
In late fall of 2012, Aid for Kids launched an online fundraising event on the crowdsourcing website, Indiegogo. It was dubbed, “The Capital Leadership Campaign;” an attempt to raise financial support to kick-start the Autism Education Project in Vietnam. The funds accumulated in the short five weeks helped ensure the Autism Education Project could begin in January of 2013.
Since the turn of the New Year the Aid for Kids team in Vietnam has been working with a great sense of urgency to establish the Autism Education Project in Vietnam. In light of information from assessments conducted at Tu Xuong of staff and children, as well as information from medical professionals and parents in and around Ho Chi Minh City, the original training curriculum had to be modified to ensure feasibility and maximize effectiveness.
However, with methodical adjustments to the training course Aid for Kids is poised to finally begin the autism-training course at Tu Xuong Rehabilitation center. Though the goals of the project remains nearly untouched the steps that will be taken to achieve success have evolved to be more logical and attainable given the resources available.
In the next few months staff caring for children with autism and similar abilities at Tu Xung will receive training to assist them as they work to build the individual skills of the children at the center. Administrator of Tu Xuong and the Autism Education Project team are taking steps towards transforming the facility from a child center of rehabilitation towards a center for life-long education.
Access to academic opportunities is limited at Tu Xuong due to a number of factors including an insufficient academic curriculum. Most kids lack basic formal academic skills therefore a new academic curriculum is developing to focus on building foundational learning abilities such as pre-academic, self-help, and communication skills. Having a structured academic routine and an understanding of core training principals should lead to the successful creation of learning opportunities.
The principals of Applied Behavioral Analysis make up the core of training and the fundamental values of ABA will guide the decisions made at Tu Xuong. The training course is an 11 topic specific workshop designed to help staff at Tu Xuong think instinctively, spontaneously and creatively to make teaching moments possible throughout the day. The workshop is also designed to support understanding of how to implement and perform individual academic classes.
Ultimately, the goal of year one is to create a fully functional education resource center at Tu Xuong with competent and skilled staff with students acquiring positive skills as measured by achievements in academic classes. Additionally, the center will be braced to open its doors to the community so that training of parents and other similar organizations can access the autism training.
The Autism Education Project has taken significant steps towards reaching our goals. It has been an exciting period here in Vietnam but we are not resting on our laurels because we are far from the finish line.
Your contribution in anyway will be greatly be appreciated. For more information, please contact email@example.com
Aid for Kid’s, Autism Education Project will train and educate individuals most closely affected by autism in Vietnam. We will engage with families, teachers, doctors, and other non-government organizations to build a comprehensive project that will empower those dedicated to bettering the lives of individuals born with autism. By building a culturally relevant training program, we will be able to share our educational model and practice to communities nationwide.
The Autism Education Project will elevate the quality of life for children born with autism in Vietnam through education, vocational training, and building daily life skills. By evaluating the needs of the autism community in Vietnam, we are collaborating with specialists in autism development and professionals in special needs education to create a training curriculum that combines many of today’s leading autism therapies and practices.
Aid for Kids will be working with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA). MOLISA is the branch of the national government responsible for the protection, care, and development of children with special needs. Additionally, we will be working with the Tu Xuong Center, an orphanage for children with physical and developmental disabilities in Ho Chi Minh City. The center is under the leadership of Dr. Nguyen Xuan Thang, Director of Tu Xuong and Aid for Kids will be working closely with his staff.
By engaging community leaders and involving important medical and academic institutions, the Autism Education Project has the capacity to transform the lives of thousands of children in Vietnam. We believe that a project which empowers the people, increases awareness, and provides direct and measureable care, has the great potential to influence policy, facilitate development of care, and be a catalyst for social change and academic research. Through a model of compassion, altruism, justice and trust the Autism Education Project will educate the autism community and enable them with the abilities to move towards a meaningful, creative, and productive life.
- Train a staff of educators and caretakers capable of implementing teaching strategies to successfully reach children with autism;
- Promote to the greatest degree possible the independent living and participation of the students in their community;
- Encourage and promote community awareness of both physical handicaps and learning disabilities.
- Connect and build relationships with professionals and partnering organizations in Vietnam and abroad to ensure the continual productive development of autism education.
- Gather and distribute donated literacy materials (books, magazines, computer software, encyclopedias, reference materials) to provide print materials that will encourage and support reading.
Aid for Kid’s newest endeavor is the Autism Education Project. The project is the result of nearly a year’s worth of preparation. There is no better time to begin this exciting challenge. Nearly all the pieces are in place to launch the project and we will be ready to initiate this project in Vietnam by January of 2013.
We have the students, we have the staff, we have the facility and we a team dedicated to developing the training curriculum. We are now pouring our efforts into creating the financial support needed to fuel this project.
We are excited to officially invite you to take part in the Autism Education Project’s LEADERSHIP CAPITAL CAMPAIGN. Join us in our efforts to raise $25,000 by December 31, 2012!
To assist us in reaching our goal we have created an easy way for you to contribute. You will be able to monitor the campaign’s progress, watch videos, look at photos, and share your thoughts and comments. Please visit: indiegogo.com/autism-education-project
You can also help by advertising and putting this link to all your networks.
Other ways to support
- Volunteers with special education background especially with knowledge in autism, early intervention programs, curriculum development, occupational therapy, and or child development to provide expert knowledge and support;
- Donations assistive language devices and other communication aids;
- Financial contributions for operational and administrative services;
- Donations of books and related autism print media;
- Electronic support such as laptops, computers, music, etc.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and ways you may contribute.
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Aid for Kids
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Houlton ME 04730
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Vietnam Photo Journal
by Don Funk