This week we heard updates from two more of our Fall Grant recipients - Napanee Rotarian Mandy Stapeley from Autism Network Lennox and Addington County, and Tara Bauer from Turtles Kingston.
Mandy spoke about the mission of ANLAC - to support individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and provide education to the community. One in 59 Canadians is affected by ASD, which covers a wide range of conditions (hence 'spectrum'). Autism Network LAC won the 2021 Social Impact Award from the Napanee District Chamber of Commerce for it's work. They received a grant to provide 14 sensory support kits for kids in schools. These kits include tactile items (shown below). The items can be comforting, allow self regulation, help reduce stress, and avoid meltdowns or shutdowns for kids with ASD.
In cooperation with the Limestone District School Board, kits were distributed to kids needing them the most. The LDSB has 4 special Autism support classes and a further 10 referral/support school sites. The kits help foster learning and inclusion, benefiting all kids. With each kit distributed, Autism Canada sned out a package to help families and teachers make best use of the kit.
Other work by ANLAC includes; providing kits to first responders to help kids in stressful emergency situations (which they were very pleased to receive); providing communication tablets to schools; and spreading awareness, especially for World Autism Day (April 2nd) and Autism Awareness Month in Canada (September).
Our other speaker was Tara Bauer, new Director at Turtles Kingston. Tara is an Environmental Scientist with a B.Sc. and M.Sc., and a background in Hydrogeology. Turtles Kingston is dedicated to protecting and educating the public about turtles in the Kingston area. Kingston is home to five of eight turtle species in Ontario, all of which are at risk. Only 1 % of turtle eggs ever reach reproductive adulthood. They are considered a 'keystone' species - their loss indicates severe breakdown in the ecosystem. Turtles help clean the ecosystem and are a conduit between land and water. They help keep fish populations healthy as well.
Our grant provides materials for nest protection boxes. Nest predation is one of three big dangers to turtles (traffic and habitat destruction are the others). The boxes are simple constructions anchored with spikes that help protect turtle nests and allow every egg to hatch. Part of the grant also went to instruction cards and turtle crossing signs.
Boxes are currently being constructed, and an army of volunteers are ready to install them for the nesting season in May. In response to questions, Tara told us they are attempting to expand the science side of their operation, trying to do turtle counts, especially in the inner harbour. They are also working with the city to install more turtle protection fencing like is being done now along Collins Creek. Tara noted that turtle fencing helps others species as well.
Both of our wonderful speakers were thanked by Joyce Yee.  Thanks to the Service Projects Committee for selecting such amazing recipients, including Interval House and The Mess, who spoke two weeks ago.