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This past year CARD has put a new emphasis on the public awareness aspect of our mission. In an effort to support public awareness activities, CARD held it's first annual Autism Awareness event. The goals for this fair were for families, community supports, and professional providers to have an opportunity to network, to create a heightened awareness of autism and related disabilities, and to discover how best to meet the needs of individuals with this disability. We are pleased to say we did just that and more.

The spectacular event was held on Saturday, April 24, 1999, at the Florida Mental Health Institute's Westside Conference Center located on the campus of the University of South Florida. The event's success was a collaborative effort by CARD staff, local support providers, businesses and volunteers. The fair lasted for six hours with approximately 300 people in attendance.

The day was filled with a variety of activities that ranged from learning about community resources and working with family crafts and hands-on activities.

Presentations were held continuously throughout the day with the rooms filled to capacity. The variety of topics covered important issues such as, early interventions services, school accommodations, visual schedules, educational rights, and quality indicators for adult services and programs. Home Depot, Publix, Palm River Point, and Redlands Christian Migrant Associations provided hands-on arts and crafts for the children throughout the day. A number of other business and organizations donated efforts and time to this great cause by providing us with wonderful raffle gifts.

CARD took pride in the premier release of the new CARD video that was viewed by families and professionals who attended the fair.

We were excited to present the artwork of Edmund Finnegan, an adult artist with autism. His colorful artwork depicts the stories he remembers from his dreams. His work has also been displayed at Artsiphartsi, a local art studio in Tampa, Fl.

Because of the wonderfully supportive responses we received from family members and professionals, CARD is looking forward to hosting similar events in the future. We were very pleased with the turnout from this event. CARD staff already has plans in the works for next year!