In 2016 300 people supported the maiden Autism Awareness Zoo Trot. Under the newly formed banner of Jozi 4 Autism, we were hoping to have the support of at least double that many people. The response we received was beyond our expectations! By Friday morning, 24 March, 2 days before the event, tickets for the Autism Awareness Zoo Trot were sold out. Our team was overwhelmed by the response we received from people from all walks of life. In the end, despite the cold weather, and the very early start, we hosted close to 1000 people at the Johannesburg zoo for the 2nd annual Autism Awareness Zoo Trot 2017. People queued outside the zoo from 6 am for a chance to purchase the additional tickets we had to make available after our online tickets were sold out.
This year we introduced something different, we opened up the event to exhibitors. Exhibitors could be schools, charities, or any other product or service that benefits people with autism. As it was the first time we hosting exhibitors, limited spaces were made available as we needed to assess the logistics and feasibility for future events. We had some incredible exhibitors including:
- Nokuthula Center and Special Needs School
- Matsea7 Equestrian Facilities
- IHSAN special needs school
- Amazing K Autism School
- Gauteng Department of Education: Inclusion and Special Schools
- Con Amore School
- Randburg Clinic School
- I Am School and Parent Support Group
- Autism Parent Network
- Inclusive Solutions
- Ernie Els Centre
- Autism South Africa
With the sheer volume of people supporting the event, we could not have pulled it off without the help of out amazing team of volunteers. These young people attended a worksheet the week prior to the walk to learn more about autism. The workshop was incredibly inspiring and we will write up a a more detailed post about that really soon.
We also want to take this opportunity to send out a heartfelt thank you to our amazing sponsors, who donated to generously. Our corporate sponsors were as follows:
- Vital Med
- E.C Security
All in all it was a fun, family day. It was especially incredible to see so many families walking in big groups in support of a child with autism. Some families had bespoke T-shirts made, while others made stickers and banners. There was a spirit of camaraderie and a celebration of the loved one with autism, which was incredibly heart warming to see. Of course there were many areas for improvement, but these will be discussed and addressed, and suggestions from those who supported us on the day is most welcome. Thank you to each and everyone who supported this event, we hope to see you all again next year!