Targa Newfoundland Benefits Autism in Newfoundland

Last week Newfoundland International Motorsports Limited issued a press release concerning some of the money raised by this year’s Targa Newfoundland.  As a result of the money raised through the Targa Newfoundland event, the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador (ASNL) will establish new technology centres designed to offer special education and training for individuals with autism spectrum disorder using computer technology.

“The Society will create Targa Technical Centres in our regional offices in Clarenville, Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor and St. John’s, and equip each location with technology like laptop and tablet computers as teaching aids for programming that will begin early next year,” announced Wendy Skinner, Executive Director of ASNL. “Our hope is to be able to offer training, not just in areas where we have regional offices but in other locations throughout the province.”

Newfoundland Communities Will Benefit From Money Raised Through Targa Newfoundland

The program will also include training for staff in how to utilize the technology in specialized teaching situations that recognize the unique skills and challenges of people suffering from autism spectrum disorder, and assist them, their families and those that work with them.

“The iPad, for example, is one of the few forms of technology that can make a difference for all age groups and all functioning levels, from high-functioning Asperger’s Disorder to those more severely challenged. The potential is tremendous,” said Debbie Howell, ASNL treasurer and the parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder.  “It can give a degree of independence that some individuals with autism would not otherwise have.  Technology can be the ideal teaching tool for many individuals.”

“In addition to helping with speech, language and social skills, technology tailored to individuals with autism spectrum disorder can foster learning at the student’s own pace and provide immediate feedback that reinforces learning,” added Elaine Dobbin, patron of the ASNL and key liaison with Targa Newfoundland. “Computer-aided instruction is tailor-made for many students.”

Targa Newfoundland raised $110,000 for the Society in 2011. Competitors that took part in the intramural Autism Challenge competition, a fundraising competition within Targa co-chaired by Julie and Ray Halleran, helped contribute to the total. A significant portion of the funds raised by Targa and its competitors will be devoted to the Targa Technical Centres.

Autism Fundraiser Julie Halleran Drove This High Horsepower Mustang in Targa Newfoundland 2011

“The new Centres will be tangible examples of where funds raised for the Autism Society are put to work, and give real focus to the fundraising efforts of Targa Newfoundland and its extended family of communities and competitors,” said Targa organizer Robert Giannou. “So much of the Targa competition is about technology that it’s particularly appropriate that technology that can make a real difference in the lives of individuals with autism.”

The Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador is the official charitable partner of Targa Newfoundland.

It is  a pleasure to be able to report on some of the good work done by the competitors and those associated with Targa Newfoundland.  Too many times only negative stories about racing and rallying are those read by the general public.

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