Every year Metro Friendship Foundation awards scholarships to children with Autism to attend social skills development classes. The funds are raised through the organization’s annual fundraiser, the “Ice Breaker Social.” This year the benefit will take place Sunday, April 21, at BayView Event Center in Excelsior.
In 2012 Metro Friendship Foundation awarded $60,000 in scholarships to local families. Social skills classes in the Minneapolis area can cost more than $10,000 a year, making it cost prohibitive for many families.
“The need for financial assistance is significant," said Foundation President Deb Jensen. "Social skills classes are expensive and insurance companies do not cover the costs for higher functioning individuals. It’s rewarding to give kids an opportunity to develop social skills in classes they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.”
The good the foundation began has rubbed off on Wayzata High School senior Hettie Stern, who donated all proceeds from the National Honor Society’s Heartweek Fundraiser this past February.Her five-year-old sister, Elizabeth, has been enrolled in social skills classes at West Metro for the past two years with the assistance of scholarships from Metro Friendship Foundation.
Autism is being diagnosed in 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls. This makes it the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States. Autism is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Individuals with Autism may have trouble picking up social norms or building relationships with others.
“The social development classes teach Elizabeth skills that help her make friends and interact with new people,” said Stern. “Thanks to early intervention, Elizabeth has exceeded all expectations for her capabilities. She’s not only functioning at a high level, but also showing interest in making friends and engaging in pretend play—overcoming a devastating prediction by doctors who said she would never have an imagination.”
The Ice Breaker Social runs 5-9 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, at BayView Event Center in Excelsior. Emcee KSTP-TV reporter Tim Scherno, live entertainment by Le Cirque Rouge House Band, formal sit down dinner and silent auction.
This year the event theme celebrates The Golden Age of Hollywood period (1920’s – 1950’s). This red carpet affair is sure to delight and be a spectacular celebration of local children with Autism.
Tickets are $65 and can be purchased by calling 952-474-0227 or visiting metrofriednshipfoundation.org.