We believe the Autistic minds of today hold the answers we need for our world to see a better tomorrow. A.W.A.K.E.N stands for Activating the Wonders of Autistic Knowledge and Empowerment NOW. And that is exactly what we are doing here at the AWAKEN Project!
AWAKEN began with a shared vision of a sanctuary that offered much healing, a place where all beings who came felt seen, heard, fully accepted, and LOVED. A place where presence, open hearts and open minds were a priority, and where shame and fear dissipated. We saw a sacred space that allowed families to reconnect, a portal opening for new hopes and dreams to be born through. We wanted to create a safe haven of fun and joy, for the children and families who most often felt isolated and shunned.
Tirza Dawn, a mother of a son with Autism, and I, Annie Ybarra, a behavioral interventionist who works in home with families on the spectrum, shared this vision. As both of our experiences with Autism expanded, our vision evolved as well. We both became extremely aware of some major things families with children on the spectrum were desperately needing and not getting:
- More access to therapies
- Parents getting sufficient rest
- Siblings getting more attention
- Families obtaining food
- Body knowledge and awareness
We realized to truly help people we had to focus on nutrition and gut health; we acknowledged this, and all things began to align when the door to Purium nutrition was opened to us. It was incredible to learn how these products could bring such immense progress to those with Autism, and this knowledge rapidly began the foundation for The AWAKEN Project. This vision to help families became a true dream, and when Tirza, David Sandoval and I locked arms those dreams became a reality – The AWAKEN Project came to life.
In August of 2018 the founders of The A.W.A.K.E.N Project, Tirza Dawn Naramore, David Sandoval and I, Annie Ybarra, brought to the world the very first AWAKEN family retreat. We have now hosted five AWAKEN Retreats, each one blowing hearts open and changing lives. We are awakening hope and love that has been dormant, unlocking potential in all that is to come, and finding healing in many forms for individuals on the spectrum and their families.
Our retreats offer:
- Cutting edge therapies brought to families all in one space, alternative healing modalities
- Fun, laughter, and joy filled days, a kids play camp adapted to the spirit of autism
- Relaxation, rejuvenation, community and HOPE for parents
- Celebration, acknowledgment, and exciting adventures for siblings
- Learning – for all!
- Tools on how to find new meaningful connections with each other, help dissolve undesirable behaviors, and boost the desired ones
- Tips on how to nourish all family members
- Cooking instruction
- Nutritional guidance with easy to prepare meals
- Kid-friendly menus
- Purium nutrition supplied
Most importantly, our retreats bring love and immense happiness to the entire family.
Through the COVID pandemic our non profit organization had undergone financial and staff depletion, however we have been able to get back up on our feet. We are currently working on putting together a safe single family retreat following COVID safety guidelines. A lot is in the works to make this happen, and we will announce dates and how to apply as soon as we possibly can. As we work to get our retreats running again we are finding gratitude in COVID for the way that it has led us in the direction of offering virtual support to families much quicker than we ever expected.
We have now committed to bringing the Awaken Project online- forming a virtual community platform to support families. We are excited to create an online space of offerings for the autism community providing things such as:
- Parent support group zooms
- Parent communication boards
- Behavioral support
- Nutritional support: purium products guides, meal plans, recipes, cooking guides, online food shopping resources, autism healthy meal delivery systems
- At home activities to connect with your child on the spectrum
- Live chats with founders and specialists to create helpful support plans for your child and family
- Resources for therapies
- Resources for books, doctors, dentists
- Online: yoga for kids with autism, parents yoga, and guided meditations for parents
- Purium business coaching/support for parents (mentoring support to launch an at home Superfoods business, opening possibilities to receive residual income built from helping others with autism to find nutritional support)
We are eagerly awaiting to begin serving and supporting our community again, we know it is needed now more than ever. Please know you are not alone. Thank you for your support and please stay tuned as we post our updates on things in the works!
The AWAKEN Project Team
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