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Herkimer BOCES special programs students become ‘autism advocates’
April 27, 2016



Team Herkimer BOCES at autism walk
Pictured here, Team Herkimer BOCES turned out in force for the Kelberman Center Walk for Autism on April 9 at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Utica Campus.


To view a video of WKTV's coverage of the Kelberman Center Walk for Autism at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Utica Campus including footage of Team Herkimer BOCES, click here.


Students in Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES special programs teacher Sarah Trunfio’s class recently became “autism advocates” as part of a project-based learning unit by learning more about autism and supporting a Kelberman Center Walk for Autism.

Before starting the unit, Trunfio asked the students if they had autism, and they all said they did, but none of them were able to answer the question, “What is autism?”

“During this unit, students were learning about whom they were as well as what things they like and don’t like,” Trunfio said. “Students were also learning to see how others view their autism and how we can teach others about autism. My hope is by the end of the unit, each student learned more about their autism, what autism is and how to advocate for themselves and others with autism.”

Trunfio joined five other Herkimer BOCES teachers this school year for project-based learning training in Syracuse, where the teachers were exposed to the concepts of project-based learning, immersed in a unit that they planned and then asked to try a unit with their students in school.

While thinking of a topic for the project-based learning unit, Trunfio knew she wanted to do something that would be important in the lives of her students, so she came up with the idea of them becoming “autism advocates.”

Trunfio introduced the students to the concept of being an autism advocate by interviewing autism advocate Jesse Saperstein and showing video clips of the interview to her students. Saperstein, who is on the autism spectrum and diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, is an autism activist, motivational speaker and author of “Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters” and “Getting a Life with Asperger’s: Lessons Learned on the Bumpy Road to Adulthood.”

During the video clips, Saperstein introduced the topics for the students’ lessons by talking about the lesson topic in reference to how the topic played a part in his life.

Trunfio’s students also worked with Herkimer BOCES art teacher Meaghan Murphy-Pagano to create a design for a t-shirt to support the Kelberman Center Walk for Autism on April 9 at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Utica Campus. The Printe Shoppe in Utica turned the design into t-shirts that were used for a fundraiser for Team Herkimer BOCES for the walk.

Trunfio said she gives thanks to teacher’s aide Gloriann Steciak, who helped with organizing the t-shirt orders to make the fundraiser a success.

Through the t-shirt sales and donations made in the name of Team Herkimer BOCES for the walk, $707 was raised to donate toward services and programs to benefit people on the autism spectrum in the Mohawk Valley.

“Thank you to everyone that donated and for everyone that bought a shirt,” Trunfio said. “A special thank you to Herkimer BOCES administration for your continued support of our autism program. Thank you to the Herkimer BOCES board for your support in sending teachers to project-based learning. The projects my students engaged in this year, not only affected their lives but also the lives of other people on the spectrum in our surrounding communities.”



Sarah Trunfino and Jesse Saperstein at autism walk
Autism advocate and author Jesse Saperstein and Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES special programs teacher Sarah Trunfio participate in the Kelberman Center Walk for Autism on April 9 at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Utica Campus.


Design made by Herkimer BOCES students and art teacher
The t-shirt design is shown here that Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES special programs students in Sarah Trunfio’s class made with Herkimer BOCES art teacher Meaghan Murphy-Pagano to raise money for Team Herkimer BOCES for the Kelberman Center Walk for Autism on April 9 at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Utica Campus.


Team Herkimer BOCES
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES teachers and staff on Team Herkimer BOCES for a Kelberman Center Walk for Autism pose for a group photograph in the lobby at Herkimer BOCES.






 
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