Ambassador of the Week
Each week of April, we will be highlighting an “Ambassador of the Week” for their exceptional work in raising awareness and building acceptance. Read Deborah's story:
Week 2: April 7st through 13th
Debbie Esposito, Winslow Township, NJ
Debbie is a concerned community member that fell in love with working with children with autism at her local school district. It's this love that has inspired her to raise awareness and become a true ambassador for the autism community. We asked Debbie to tell us a bit about what motivates her.
A little about Debbie:
I am the mother of two boys ages 11 and 14. I am originally from Philadelphia, however, my husband and I moved to New Jersey right before the birth of our first child. I began working as a substitute teacher when my oldest son started school so that I could be more available for my children. Over the last 10 years, I first had the privilege of working with special needs children as a substitute teacher and then as an instructional aid. Through my work in the schools, I also helped to form the Winslow Township Special Education Parent Advisory Committee that worked to educate and inform parents in order to help them be more effective advocates for their children.
What inspires Debbie to spread autism awareness?
I love the saying: "Once you've met one child with autism, you've met one child with autism." It captures what I've experienced since becoming involved in the autism community. I've worked with children from pre-school through 6th grade and have realized two important things. First, people don’t realize the sheer number of children with autism. I have also realized that many people know very little about autism. They don’t know what to look for and they don’t know how to interact with children on the spectrum in an effective and compassionate manner.
I have had the privilege of knowing so many children with autism through my work in school and in the community. Even though communication can be challenging, I always marvel at the children’s unique perspectives. It is my hope that we learn to communicate more effectively and begin to appreciate and value the uniqueness of those on the spectrum.
Debbie is connecting the pieces by:
I am once again hosting the "Puzzle Piece Crop and Vendor Fair" on April 25, 2015 in Sicklerville. This is a 10-hour scrapbooking event with vendors and a silent auction to raise money for local autism organizations. This year all proceeds will benefit Autism New Jersey.
I'm also planning an autism awareness assembly at Winslow Township School #3 for pre-K through 3rd grade. We'll be using Autism New Jersey's Kids Booklet on Autism to help teach the students about autism. We hope to help build a greater acceptance between individuals with autism and their peers.
Autism New Jersey is celebrating its 50th year. Debbie would use these three words to describe us:
Champion • Resource • Haven
Click here to see other Ambassadors highlighted this year.