As the number of children diagnosed with autism continues to increase in our region, so too does Averett University's dedication to helping these children, their families, teachers and clinicians. Thanks to a $35,000 gift from The Alexander Berkeley Carrington Jr., and Ruth Simpson Carrington Charitable Trust the University can now begin its search for a director of autism studies with a goal to have the position filled by mid-year.
Averett's interest in helping those families and teachers of autistic children began in 2008. That fall, the University began offering an autism certificate training program for teachers who work with autistic children. A year later, Averett was approved by the Virginia Autism Council (VAC) to issue a certificate of training in autism spectrum disorders. Then an anonymous challenge grant was issued requiring a dollar-for-dollar match of $35,000 a year for three years to hire a director of autism studies. Last fall, Averett began offering courses in equine assisted psychotherapy through its equestrian program, and opened the Carrington Autism Resource Center in November.
Once the challenge grant was issued, the University actively sought funding to support the director's position. The University obtained a $15,000 matching gift from Infinity Global Packaging as well as more than $14,000 in private gifts. In addition, the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region recently contributed $23,500 towards the position as well. The gift from the Carrington Trust provided the remaining funding necessary to meet the matching gift requirement.
Now that the director's position is funded and a search is underway, Averett can expand its educational opportunities for students at the undergraduate and graduate levels by providing a "learning laboratory" in areas such as education and psychology so students can better understand how to work with autistic children. The director will provide leadership for the program, education of Averett students, training for currently practicing teachers and support resources for parents and caregivers of children with autism.
"We are very grateful to The Alexander Berkeley Carrington Jr., and Ruth Simpson Carrington Charitable Trust for its continued support of our efforts toward autism education," said Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks. "Their generosity combined with that of other individuals and foundations will allow Averett to secure a director of autism to provide essential, but rare educational opportunities for students, practicing teachers and other service providers."
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