Sunday, April 6, 2008

Resource Fair Highlight: The Gift Circle

Yesterday the thermostat hit sixty and a bit above for the first time since October. The boys and I returned from a great trip in Ohio around 4 p.m. after about a four-hour car ride. They behaved really well during the ride home, but were more than ready to run and play when we finally pulled in the driveway..

The sun shone and birds sang. The best sound, however, was the voices of six children echoing in and around my backyard. This was the first time since fall that the neighborhood children emerged from their homes to join in for hours of play. My nine-year-old with autism was in the group. He rode his scooter along with the rest of the them and followed in while they created play scenarios. One of my boys brought out a toy pop-up tent that fits about two or three small people inside if they all sit down. Later, I brought out the chameleon tunnel much to their delight. Everyone played outside until about 8 p.m. or so.

The tunnel was a gift we received unexpectedly at the autism resource fair on April 2, 2008, I previously wrote about. A Central Michigan Group, Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC), donated the toy to my group, Central Michigan ASA (pending chapter) to raffle off. We set it up beside the other four items we had to raffle. Each item had a bag. We sold the tickets for $2 and those that bought a ticket wrote their name and number on it. Then they dropped it in the bag of the item of their choice. At 6:45 we had the drawing.

One of the most eager participants was a thirteen year old boy, P.L.. He has a mop of curly dark hair, brown eyes, freckles, a round face and ASD. He is the son of the director of the arts and music camp my nine year old attends and also happens to be one of my guy's best friends. They bonded at the camp and during a bus ride last summer to Lansing's Potter Park zoo. Like my son, P.L. loves frogs. He also loves giving things to people. During the ride P.L. taught my son a song (more about this later) about froggys--a song that became my son's favorite one to sing.

The chameleon tunnel resembles a frog quite a bit (with some imagination). P.L.was at the resource fair because his mom is enrolled in a CMU class. He hung out with his counselors who were representing the camp at the resource fair. Well, P.L. decided immediately that he wanted to win the tunnel for my son. He bought two tickets on his own and his counselors helped him buy a few more with the deal that if he won, the tunnel would be brought to the camp in the summer. As raffle chair and potential tunnel guardian, I approved of the deal.

P.L. also put a few tickets in for other items as well. I originally told him we'd draw the winners around 6:30, but had to tell him we needed to wait an extra fifteen minutes because attendance to the fair had picked up and I thought we could sell a few more. He was dismayed at the possibility more tickets would be added to the sacks that contained his own, but waited patiently until we drew. I was so proud of him. He asked a couple of times, but wasn't obnoxious about it despite his excitement.

We drew at 6:45 and to his delight he won--three prizes! He gave them all away and yes, one was the chameleon tunnel. His mom picked him up from the fair and drove him to my house where he gave the tunnel to his friend much to the delight of both of my boys. I wasn't home when P.L. delivered the tunnel, but my husband told me all about it. Later, I returned home, exhausted but happy. I emailed his mom about how the fair had gone well and how P.L. had made my day. She has a great guy.

Note: I was amazed at the circle of giving that occurred. I gave a lot of time and energy to the fair, SCEC gave away the tunnel, P.L. gave away the tunnel to my guy, who knows that it is to be brought to camp in the summer--a camp that P.L.'s mom worked hard to bring into being.

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