The Wagga Autism Support Group will be donning their capes and cowls for the first time in four years as their annual Superhero Walk returns to Lake Albert on Sunday 2 April.
The event, held on World Autism Awareness Day, will see up to 300 people dressing up as their favourite heroes while making their way from Apex Park to the Wagga Wagga Boat Club.
The walk aims to help shine a light on available resources for families with members diagnosed with autism while also providing a fun day out with barbecues, games, prizes and an appearance from a replica Lightning McQueen.
Organisers of the walk Deborah Bewick and Jacinta Gordon believe the event will help families form connections that can support them while also building an understanding about their child’s or relative’s diagnosis.
“The Superhero Walk started 10 years ago, but unfortunately with the pandemic, we haven’t been able to hold the event since 2019,” Mrs Bewick said.
“We are back now, and we are really encouraging families to come out next weekend and really get involved. You don’t need to come dressed as DC or Marvel characters, just someone who inspires you or someone you look up to.
“We are looking to provide families with a really strong support network and an event like the Superhero Walk enables them to meet other families who are going through similar challenges while also seeing what local service providers and opportunities there are present for people with autism.
“We will also be holding a raffle with a range of prizes to be won including a lovely wooden table carved in Junee, some laser tag vouchers and several other different bits and pieces. Lightning McQueen will also be making a special appearance; we are excited for families to see him.”
Mrs Gordon, whose eleven-year-old son was diagnosed with autism, said she believed the Covid-19 period provided numerous challenges to not only people with autism but carers who were unable to frequently seek out services.
“Kids in particular get used to routines, seeing doctors, taking medication and things like that so when the pandemic hit it made it difficult not only for them but their families as well,” Mrs Gordon said.
“It was difficult to book tele appointments and was near impossible for diagnosis to be made during that period. Now that we are able to hold events like the hero walk, we think it is important to highlight that families aren’t alone and there are others who understand and support services out there.”
The Superhero Walk is one of many events held by the Wagga Autism Support Group which include sensory movie showings at Forum 6, exclusive bookings at Flipout and sessions at the Oasis aquatic centre.
“There are a lot of different challenges that families with autism face, so with the support group we want to help not only those with autism and sensory issues but their carers and siblings as well because it can be really tough for them as well,” Mrs Gordon said.
“We like to be able to give siblings of autistic children the chance to refresh, regroup and have some time to themselves without that background noise and pressure, so we hold events for them as well.”
“However, in order to hold events, we do need funding and community donations, so if people are able to come down to the Superhero Walk and put a donation towards the support group whether that is through the raffles or buying food, that would mean the world.”
People wanting to attend the Superhero Walk are being encouraged to register beforehand to allow organisers the ability to cater for numbers.
“We are expecting somewhere between 200 and 300 people, although we won’t mark your name off and you won’t be turned away if you don’t register; we will be extremely grateful if people could register to give us an idea of numbers,” Mrs Buick said.
Those who are looking to learn more, purchase a raffle ticket or register for the walk can do so by visiting www.waggaautismgroup.org.au.