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USD Athletics to Receive Legacy Award from Autism Tree Project Foundation

USD Athletics to Receive Legacy Award from Autism Tree Project Foundation

The University of San Diego Athletics Department has been a strong ally of the Autism Tree Project Foundation (ATPF) since 2008. On Friday, September 30, at the inaugural ATPF Ignite Every Child Luncheon, USD Athletics is set to receive the ATPF Legacy Award for its long-term involvement with the foundation.

According to Ron Valenzuela, assistant director for academics and student development, said USD’s football and baseball teams are active in autism advocacy in San Diego. They mentor ATPF children, invite ATPF families to Torero events and home games and help those who face the daily challenge of raising a child with autism.

ATPF children have been paired with members of the football team for one-on-one play time, activities and mentoring since 2008. The Torero baseball team has paired with ATPF to create a similar program for children and families in 2013.

“More than 1,000 children and families have participated in the ATPF Student-Athlete Mentor Program, bringing kids with autism out into the USD community and encouraging children to be active and express themselves while improving their confidence and social communication,” Valenzuela said.

In addition to USD Athletics, awards will also be given to Josh Everett (ATPF Global Leadership Award) and Josefina Ring (ATPF Syntropy Award).

The luncheon event, which will also include a shopping boutique, champagne pull, opportunity drawing and a program that will feature stories from ATPF families and community advocates, will take place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds’ Wyland Center.

Proceeds from the luncheon will support the ATPF Early Intervention Screening Program, which identifies preschoolers with language or motor delays so that families can be facilitated in obtaining diagnosis and the necessary intervention for their children as early as possible.

Since 2006, ATPF has screened 10,984 children throughout San Diego County. Today, fewer than one in three children in California receive the pediatrician-recommended screenings they need to identify possible developmental delays. Currently, ATPF partners with AKA Head Start, Inc. to provide a screening to every child enrolled at each of their 14 sites. The ATPF Ignite Every Child Luncheon will make it possible for ATPF to expand its reach and provide early intervention screenings to all 10,300 Head Start preschoolers in San Diego County on an annual basis, with the ultimate goal of kindergarten readiness.

— USD Athletics and Ryan T. Blystone

USD Football and the Autism Tree Project Foundation children have partnered on a mentoring connection since 2008.USD Football and the Autism Tree Project Foundation children have partnered on a mentoring connection since 2008.

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