For my 2023-2024 i2 project, my proposed idea is to create a program that’s an extension of my original website atypicalautism. One thing that’s a huge part of my website is resources for families and individuals. Therefore, the main goal of the program is that it’s a student-led and volunteer-based organization dedicated to helping families locally and generally in California find the resources they need for their child who is neurodivergent or has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There will be two types of volunteers that this program will require, which will be those working on a resource database, while the other volunteers will be going through forms the families fill out and personally picking out various organizations that pique their interest from the database. Then they’ll have meetings with the families to find resources best for them. The options obviously won’t be perfect, but the goal is just to help families find resources so they can see if it is the right fit for them.
With this project, the most important problem my partner, Faith Pan, and I want to solve is that many families of individuals with ASD find it difficult to look for programs that suit their specific needs. It requires a lot of research and time to encounter even one that meets them. It is also important to know that each person and family may be facing various challenges, which is why this program is supposed to make the process of overcoming them much more guided and stress-free. While this problem will always be prevalent in the ASD community, it is our hope to create something that reminds them that they are not alone and can reach out for help when they need it.
As I previously mentioned, this project idea stems from a project I spent my sophomore year working on, which is a website that includes various resources and perspectives of the ASD community. It includes helpful videos, informational facts, and my interviews with specialists and parents. However, the component that I find most important is the resources page, which is inclusive for many members of the community. The page has sub-pages for volunteering/donations, support groups, family resources, ASD information, youth with ASD, and adults with ASD. This is the root of my 2023-2024 i2 project because I realized that in order to bring resources such as these to the community, there must be a program that reaches out to these people. It takes the effort of people who truly care in order to do this, which is why Faith and I feel like we can harness our work for this greater good.
Admittedly, this also has its fair share of challenges. For one thing, getting volunteers and various forms of funding will be very demanding for this program. For volunteers, we are honestly relying on the empathy and support of the Bay Area community in order to achieve our goals. It may be difficult to find even a few people since this is a start-up program, but the work will be very rewarding and fun. Our current plan for funding is also quite ambitious. We would be partnering with programs in the Bay Area by referring our clients to their programs and then in turn they would refer us to their clients and help us gain donations. There is also the additional option of donations from our clients, though a payment is not required. Those donations would then go to the organization’s various spending needs and a portion would be distributed as well to our partnering programs. As a last note, this cannot be done in just one i2 year, so it would begin to build a foundation this year and hopefully take off in late 2024 to early 2025. While these challenges are definitely daunting, I believe that we can overcome them and find ways to truly impact the ASD community in the Bay Area.
Altogether, I am so excited to be working with Faith on this program. I know that it will be difficult and demanding at times, but my passion for helping this community will help it take off and become something that so many people can benefit from. I can’t wait to see where this program will go in the future!