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Families with autism invited to Surrey fire hall for 'Sensory Friendly Open House'

Surrey Now Leader - 4/2/2019

Families and individuals living with autism are invited to a special open house at a Surrey fire hall this month.

A sensory-friendly event is planned at the hall at 88th Avenue and 132nd Street on Sunday, April 14, from 2 to 4 p.m.

"The Surrey Fire Service (SFS), IAFF Local 1271 and Canucks Autism Network (CAN) are proud to host a Sensory Friendly Open House for individuals and families living with autism," says a post on the CAN website (canucksautism.ca).

"Families are invited to meet their local fire fighters, and participate in activities such as a station tour, truck tour, and hose station. This event is open to all families living with autism. You do not need to have a CAN membership to attend.

"No registration required. Simply show up ready to have fun!"

During the event, children must stay under the supervision of a parent, guardian or caregiver at all times.

On Saturday night (March 30), CAN organized an Autism Awareness Night at the Canucks hockey game at Rogers Arena. The Surrey Stingrays team played a scrimmage between periods of the NHL game, and a video also showed them on the ice at North Surrey Recreation Centre.

Last July, the Canucks Autism Network hosted a 10th-anniversary party at Surrey Civic Plaza with games, live entertainment, inflatables, a dunk tank, vendors and more.

The inspiration for the birthday event came from "the countless stories of children with autism who are excluded from birthday parties," according to an advisory from CAN. In the weeks leading up to the party, the organization mailed out some 1,700 personal invitations to kids and youth with autism, "marking the first-ever birthday invite for many of the recipients."

CAN, founded in 2008 by Vancouver Canucks co-owners Paolo and Clara Aquilini, aims to increase autism awareness and provide related training in communities across B.C.

Surrey is home to close to 15 per cent of CAN's province-wide membership, which hovers around 4,000 families, the organization says. Surrey has the largest number of children and youth with autism of any city in B.C., according to Ministry of Child and Family Development stats cited by CAN.

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