The Link Between OddWheel Unicycles and auSOMEtism
I first learnt of auSOMEtism on the 2nd of April 2012 when an email was sent to me by a designer I work with. She knew my background with autism and cycling and just had to share it. Shaun Murphy and his entourage of cyclists started a 25-day cycle tour from Joburg to Cape Town to raise funds for autism. I was keen to join but unfortunately couldn’t. The event drifted into the unused filing cabinets of my mind.
In January of 2013 Shaun read an article which I did with Ride Magazine reviewing unicycling gear. This got Shaun’s cycling creative juices flowing. He decided to use unicycling as a tool to create awareness for auSOMEtism. He bought a uni and with his cheerful passionate nature took up the challenge.
Finally the pin dropped and we figured out, in a round-about-way that we knew of each other and that we had a common thread that brought us together. We both have an autistic family member and were trying to use unicycling as a tool to raise awareness and set up some infrastructure for these souls.
Put plainly, synchronicity brought us together. This is why I have chosen to support auSOMEtism and make it OddWheel’s “official” cause.
The GirleeRyder at OddWheel Unicycles
Learn. Understand. Help. This is our mantra; this is what drives us at auSOMEtism. What is auSOMEtism, you may be asking yourself? We are a little autism foundation trying to raise awareness and teach acceptance. Since the foundation’s humble beginnings four years ago, we at auSOMEtism hope to change perceptions and break down, if only a few, barriers to what is an extremely mystifying condition known as Autism Spectrum Disorder.
auSOMEtism was founded with the principle that children on the Autism spectrum may be different from neuro typical kids, but are no way any less awesome than their peers! Early intervention and appropriate schooling give these beautiful children a chance to express themselves and learn in an environment that encourages thinking out of the box!
Being a father of a 9 year old boy living with Autism, it has been a journey that has led me to appreciate every little moment that far too often is cast aside in a world that applauds the majority and frowns upon anything that goes against the norm. Our son Nicholas embraces life, living it with sheer delight, the good and the bad, never for a moment stopping to think if society has decided what’s fun or not. A single balloon can bring out a mischievous giggle and occupy an entire afternoon as it is moulded and contorted into a myriad of shapes and designs taking its owner on an amazing adventure. There is something beautiful about that.
The innocence of these, always truthful, slightly quirky kids has given way to auSOMEtism becoming involved in various projects which act as a platform for us to help raise awareness. Our website and social media interaction with the autism community hopes to pass on information, allow people to become involved in any one of the current projects or act as a forum whereby parents, friends and family members can talk and bounce ideas off each other. We have participated in a cycle from Jozi to the Mother City in a bid to raise awareness throughout the country, giving workshops regarding autism along the way. Currently we are busy with the final prep for our 4th year at the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge, growing our cycling community from 3 to nearly 80 participants in the 2014 event.
auSOMEtism aims to assist the ongoing development of the Faery Glen young adult centre. There are very few educational facilities available for these remarkable children once they reach the age of 12 and we hope to engage our community and help bring a sustainable learning environment for children and young adults. We have a mighty long road ahead of us, but we have always been about the little steps here at auSOMEtism. Little steps often turn into giant leaps!
Learn. Understand. Help. This is what we hope to achieve here at auSOMEtism.