THOUSANDS of people across the UK and Ireland will walk 10,000 steps a day for eight days starting this March, raising vital funds for people with autism and their families as part of the fourth annual Walk for Autism campaign.
Registrations are now officially open, giving everyone time to fundraise ahead of the walk which will begin on March 26 ending on World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
Despite a challenging year in 2020 with a number of Covid related restrictions in place, the charity initiative raised over £90,000, which supported hundreds of individuals and funded more than 20 projects that improve quality of life, promote physical activity and help autistic adults and children learn and develop every single day.
Fundraising Manager at Autism Initiatives Group, Liz Oakley said:
“Typically we would encourage our walkers to become part of a community that would meet up and take on the challenge together. Although last year this wasn’t possible, we were blown away by the comradery that we saw among participants on a virtual level. This inspirational team spirit is something that we are passionate about bringing into our 2021 campaign and we want to reassure people that they can still take part safely in line with the current lockdown measures.
Although the challenge can be done solo, anywhere at any time within those eight days, it’s the message behind it that links us all and has the power to create lasting bonds and ultimately make a real difference to autistic people alongside their families and support networks.
“Now in its fourth year, we’re encouraging people to sign up to Walk for Autism and support us in raising funds that will help us to change lives one step at a time. Autism affects more than 700,000 people in the UK and Ireland and it’s so important that we help as many of those people as we can through the projects undertaken by Autism Initiatives.
As we all continue to adjust to a ‘new normal’, the change is especially difficult for people with autism and for their families to comprehend and manage. With that in mind, we hope that by collectively taking part in Walk for Autism we can contribute to something positive among the disruption and help to secure support where it’s needed.”
The team are encouraging walkers to raise £10 a day across the eight-day challenge although greater donations will really help to make a difference. Once registered, walkers will be able to set up their own unique fundraising page and connect with others online via a dedicated Facebook group. After an initial donation, participants will receive their very own Walk for Autism t-shirt.
Liz added: “This campaign is especially important to us as we have seen first-hand how much it can improve people’s lives. It’s also an opportunity for us to don our trainers and get outdoors. The last year has been tough for everyone and walking has been proven to help with mental wellbeing – just another positive reason to get involved.
As we face the prospect of continued lockdown restrictions in the months ahead, we hope that this challenge will keep people motivated to put their physical and mental health first, whether that’s by stepping outside for fresh air or simply using it to help build a routine that adds some structure to our day-to-day lives.
“Walkers can complete their steps at any time and in whatever way suits them, whether it’s walking the dog or stepping on the treadmill. Participants can use their walking time to reflect, de-stress or to catch up with friends and loved ones via call or video chat. It’s important to remember that each and every step counts so even if you can’t get out and about, steps around the garden or even around your home will all contribute.
You can track your steps easily using a pedometer or smart phone apps to make sure you’re hitting your target. The concept is simple, but the rewards are huge.”
Walk for Autism is a campaign led by charity Autism Initiatives Group (registered charity number 1170634) who have been working to improve the lives of autistic people and their families across the UK and Ireland for almost 50 years.
For more information or to sign up visit www.walkforautism.co.uk