Ride for Autism Awareness a Huge Success

June 13, 2018

Every teacher deserves the right training, says Sarah Blythe, and thanks to her and all those who participated in the Autism Awareness ride in Feilding on March 4, several Manawatu teachers got that specialist training. She writes about her experience.

IT’S A SIGHT and a sound I will never forget.

There they were, motorcycles and their mainly leather-clad riders waiting to set out from Gary Worsley Motorcycles in Feilding for the ride to The Wines in Himatangi Beach.

And it was all for autism awareness and the opportunity to train Manawatu school teachers and educators into how to understand, educate and build acceptance for all children living with autism.

We raised $6956, $3010 of it on the day itself through registrations, and six weeks later there the teachers were at Lytton Street School, in their school holidays, learning from the experts at Altogether Autism from their PRISM professional development series programme.

Face Painting

The teachers who attended the training said it was amazing and wish they had this training ages ago.

They said it could have helped them so much in the classroom previously and they could not wait to use some of the techniques.

One comment that stuck out was a from a lady who has been a teacher for 20 years and said in her whole time of teaching she has never ever been offered any training like this.

It’s given some of our teachers around the Manawatu more knowledge and understanding of autism.

I believe it’s given our children on the spectrum a chance to be able to succeed to the best they can in an environment that has understanding. Every teacher deserves the right training, and every autistic child needs a teacher to understand them to help them succeed at school.

So we are going to do it all over again in March next year.

Why are we doing it?

Sarah Blythe with her sons Neko, 6, Mataeo, 3, and mother Deb Costello.

Two years ago my partner Codie and I were told our son Neko was on the autism spectrum. The diagnosis helped explain why Neko behaved the way he did.

At Lytton Street School in Feilding, where Neko finally settled after months of unhappiness at a previous school, teachers used the Walker Learning Approach.

The approach provides authentic personalised learning effective across all cultural, economic, geographical, religious and social spectrums. It aims to bring deeper levels of engagement to children in meaningful and relevant strategies that enhance academic skills alongside the development of skills for life particularly in areas of social and emotional development, resilience, self-esteem and independence.

After our not so successful start to Neko’s school years, this was a Godsend for Codie and me.

So it got me thinking. How could I help other children like Neko?

That’s when the motorbike fundraiser came to me.

There were 134 people registered on the day, mostly motorbikes but a few cars as well.

Blair Worsley from Gary Worsley Motorcycles came on board as the main sponsor and organised the ride route.

Thanks to him and some other generous sponsors, we raised money from raffles, t-shirts, cash donations, auctions, a sausage sizzle and a golf tournament.

The amount we raised meant we could offer 34 teachers the training they needed. Thanks to the publicity, we also other swimming instructors from the Makino Aquatic Centre in Feilding keen to get training as well.

Next year’s ride will start in Feilding and also finish back in Feilding.

We are hoping to turn it into more of a community event and get the community behind us supporting us and also an awesome day to spread more knowledge and give people more understanding around autism.

Put it in your calendar – Sunday 7 March 2021 – and we will see you there.


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