Upstate News

October 5, 2006
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

SUNY Upstate and Kohl’s launch autism outreach program

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – SUNY Upstate Medical University and the Kohl’s Foundation have launched a community outreach program, Kohl’s Autism Project, to support Central New York’s young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at home, in the community and in the classroom. The project is made possible through an $84,985 donation from the Kohl’s Foundation “Kohl’s Cares for Kids” program. It will be offered SUNY Upstate’s Margaret L. Williams Developmental Evaluation Center (MLW/DEC), located at 215 Bassett St., Syracuse.

“We are very grateful for the generous donation made by the Kohl’s Foundation through its Kohl’s Cares for Kids program,” said Carroll Grant, Ph.D., director of the MLW/DEC.

“We know that a child with a disability can succeed academically and in life when mainstreamed appropriately with other children. The Kohl’s Autism Project will allow us to expand our clinical team that works with preschools and schools to offer guidance and to promote understanding and acceptance of children with ASD in the classroom as well as in the community.”

“The donation will also allow us to develop an interactive puppet show and curriculum for use in school settings that will help all children understand and accept children with ASD,” Grant said.

The Kohl’s Cares for Kids program raises funds for children’s health and educational opportunities across the country through the sale of special gift items.

All of the net profits from the sale of the items support children’s health and educational opportunities in the market areas served by Kohl’s. “Kohl’s is committed to playing an active role in the communities we serve,” said Julie Gardner, senior vice president of marketing for Kohl’s Department Stores.”We are proud of the partnerships we have created with children’s hospitals across the country and are excited to join SUNY Upstate Medical University in this endeavor.”

ASD includes children with classic Autism, Aspergers, and pervasive developmental disabilities not otherwise specified. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them. People with autism can often have accompanying learning disabilities but everyone with the condition shares a difficulty in making sense of the world. Asperger syndrome is a form of autism used to describe people who are usually at the higher functioning end of the autistic spectrum. According to the Center for Disease Control, it is suspected that there may be multiple causes for ASD due to a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors.

The Margaret L. Williams/Developmental Evaluation Center provides assessment, consultation, and referral services for children who are “at risk” for or have a developmental disability.

The Kohl’s donation was secured by the Upstate Medical University Foundation at Syracuse. The MLW/DEC Kohl’s Autism project is funded and implemented in collaboration with University Hospital, the upcoming Golisano Children’s Hospital at University Hospital and the Syracuse Developmental Disabilities Services Office.

Kohl’s community outreach also includes Kohl’s Kids Who Care, an annual youth volunteer recognition program, fundraising gift cards for local schools and non-profit youth groups, as well as an associate program to encourage volunteerism.

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