Children at Risk’s 21st annual Celebrity-Carved Pumpkin Contest is happening from Thursday, October 20 to Sunday, October 23. Children at Risk is a local charity that has been providing assistance for children with autism and their families for 37 years. And for two decades, local VIPS have been supporting the cause by carving pumpkins into awesome creations for this annual fundraiser.
October is Autism Awareness Month
This year, veteran carvers will be challenged by first-timers, with over 100 pumpkins being transformed in the name of the charity. Participants include Jill Skinner from Ottawa Police Services, City of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and councilors, along with Ottawa Senators, Ottawa 67’s, RedBlacks and Fury players as well as various MPPs and MPs.
Participants compete for the honour of being named to the “Top Thirteen” list of carvers for 2016 and a Trophy for the Top Carver!
The pumpkin creations will be on display at Merivale Mall on Thursday, October 20 – then additionally at Carlingwood Shopping Centre, Place d’Orléans and Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre from Friday, October 21 to Sunday, October 23. Visitors to the malls can vote for their favourite pumpkin or celebrity by donating spare change. And for the first time this year, there will be ballots for three grand prize draws from all four malls. What’s more, celebrities have donated prize packages for silent auction bidding (on-site & on-line www.childrenatrisk.ca ).
Over the past 20 years, this pumpkin-carving fundraiser has generated over $126,617. All proceeds help Children at Risk fill in the gaps in publicly-funded autism services with offerings that include include Camp Kaleidoscope – an all-day summer camp, family support groups, information seminars and educational training workshops.
FYI: Autism is a lifelong neurological, developmental disorder that affects 1 in 68 North American children, with 1 in 54 boys impacted. (Boys are over four times more likely than girls to have autism.) Autism impacts the typical development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication. Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are often, without help, unable to speak, relate to others, be aware of dangerous situations or play appropriately with toys.
Children at Risk is solely supported via fundraising and donations. The organization piloted an all-day summer camp in 2011 and increased spots yet again in 2016, 343 per cent from 2011. Its Friendship Social Skill Therapy Support Groups help to provide children with tools to function in a complex world of communication and social interaction. Saturday Fun Club offers respite for families and recreational fun for the children. Sibling Support Workshops allow brothers and sisters the opportunity to understand their disabled sibling. And seminars explore existing and new interventions to inform parents, caregivers and professionals.