Community treks up Kolekole for autism

| April 21, 2011 | 0 Comments
Jennifer Koprowski, leader for the 65th Eng. Bn. family readiness group, 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, addresses the unit’s volunteers at Schofield Barracks before beginning the Walk for Autism up Kolekole Pass, April 6. (Courtesy Photo)

Jennifer Koprowski, leader for the 65th Eng. Bn. family readiness group, 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC, addresses the unit’s volunteers at Schofield Barracks before beginning the Walk for Autism up Kolekole Pass, April 6. (Courtesy Photo)

1st Lt. Brigida Sanchez
65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — More than 200 members of the community participated in a Walk for Autism organized by a family member, here, April 6.

Jennifer Koprowski — wife of Lt. Col. Dan Koprowski, commander, 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command — organized the walk for the Autism Awareness Month that is held each April.

She chose the climb up Kolekole Pass, here, to demonstrate the challenges faced by those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASD. Koprowski wanted a walk that was challenging, but “achievable.”

“Kolekole seemed like a natural choice,” she said.

While Koprowski originally planned the walk for 65th Eng. Bn. spouses, the event grew to include nearly 100 family members from the battalion and the 130th Eng. Bde., as well as dozens of members of the community who have children with autism.

“When I got a call from Rose Brown at the (325th Brigade Support Bn., 3rd Bde. Combat Team “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division), I knew the walk had really taken off,” Koprowski said. “They arrived with 100 walkers of their own, all decked out in blue, the Autism Awareness Month color. It was great to have their support.”

“The participation in the walk was great,” said Bridget Shioshita, family readiness support assistant, 65th Eng. Bn. “(Koprowski’s) focused on raising awareness within the community and reaching out to families with autistic children.”

The military has dramatically increased its support for families of children with ASD in the last decade, largely because of the advocacy efforts of parents and community members, according to the Koprowskis.

“When our son was diagnosed 13 years ago, there were no services designed for autistic kids,” Dan Koprowski said. “It’s been a long road, but what the military has done to address the needs of these kids and their families has been invaluable.

“Moving from place to place with a child who requires a complex set of educational and medical supports is extremely challenging,” he continued. “I think, in many cases, the programs the military offers have made it possible for Soldiers with kids on the spectrum to stay in the service.”

The walk, besides raising awareness, challenged many community members who had never been up to Kolekole Pass. For many, touching the stop sign at the top of the hill was a real achievement.

“There were all kinds of people getting their pictures taken at the top, saying that their husbands were deployed and wouldn’t believe they were up there,” Koprowski said.

“Thank you for today,” said Mackenzie Godfrey, 65th Eng. Bn. family member, in a post on the battalion’s Facebook page. “My son and my family appreciated the walk. I really enjoyed hearing your speech about how people need to stop and help if they see a child having a fit, or to stop and ask questions instead of judging.”

To learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorders, visit www.autism-society.org, www.autism.com or www.autismspeaks.org. Military families can also check out www.stompproject.org or www.operationautismonline.org for information more specific to the challenges of autism and military life.

 

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Category: Community, Observances

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