"Arch Stories" Speakers to Discuss Autism on April 23

STORM LAKE, IA (04/19/2017) (readMedia)-- Seven "Arch Stories" speakers – including adults on the spectrum, family members and advocates -- will share authentic stories detailing a significant event in their lives involving autism on Sunday, April 23 at 1 p.m. in Schaller Memorial Chapel on the Buena Vista University (BVU) campus.

"'Arch Stories' captures people's personal narratives and expresses their authentic emotions so that the audience has a clear understanding of what they have experienced in their lives," said Jim Salvucci, "Arch Stories" host, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at BVU.

The session is part of the annual "Choose Blue for Autism: Take Steps to Make a Difference," which includes a weekend of events designed to educate and raise awareness of the complications that arise from an autism diagnosis.

"What I like about 'Arch Stories' is that it reaches your heart and creates an emotional connection between the storytellers and the individual audience members," added Marie Sennett, 2017 Choose Blue coordinator. "I can't think of a better way to educate our community on what life is like when autism touches it."

Immediately following the session, a panel of experts will discuss access to services and other issues facing individuals and families who have been impacted by autism. There will also be a youth fair from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Lamberti Recreation Center on the BVU campus. Parents are encouraged to attend the "Arch Stories" session and the expert panel while children of all ages and abilities enjoy face painting, creating a community service project and other activities alongside BVU students.

Other weekend events include the Seventh Annual Choose Blue Dinner and Silent Auction sponsored by the Elijah's Project and a 5K race to raise funds and awareness in honor of BVU President Fred Moore, and his wife, Susan, who are serving as honorary co-chairs of this collection of events.

Funds raised from the dinner and silent auction will go to Faith, Hope and Charity, Genesis Development and Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency. All other Choose Blue events directly benefit Faith, Hope and Charity and Genesis Development.

The "Arch Stories" speakers include:

Susan Moore

Moore is an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ. She received her Master of Divinity from Duke University and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina. Much of her time in Storm Lake has been dedicated to the supportive role of BVU President Fred Moore's wife, as mother to Alison, and as mother and primary caretaker of the Moores' 26-year-old son, Stephen, who is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Moore has also been an active volunteer in Storm Lake and surrounding communities.

Aurora Post

Post is a 23-year-old ambassador public speaker for the Special Olympics Global Messenger Program. She received her ambassador training certificate in December 2015 and has been an avid speaker since. Post balances working part time and her ambassador role. She has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and seeks to show the abilities in people with intellectual challenges.

Michelle Baird-Grant

Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, Baird-Grant earned a bachelor's degree from Acadia University and has since earned honorary degrees in chaos management, motherhood, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and ADHD through an extensive, unpaid fellowship and on-the-job training. When not fulfilling her role as a household engineer, Baird-Grant enjoys reading, shopping, learning to play the piano, organizing social gatherings, serving in the community and at church, and traveling to visit family.

Chase Harrison

Harrison is a senior music production and technology major at BVU where he is an active member of BVU's KBVU (The Edge), the Concert Band, and the Jazz Ensemble. He is also a composer and an alum of the highly competitive Disney College Program where he worked for Disney World in Orlando, Fla. In addition to telling a personal story during the event, Harrison is providing musical entertainment.

Brandon Arkland

Arkland is a senior at Iowa State University, majoring in child, adult and family services. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors at the Autism Society of Iowa. Arkland is the co-chair of the Iowa Autism State Council, which advises the state legislature and governor by producing topical reports.

Rebecca Bassich

Bassich is 27-years-old and the oldest of six children. She graduated from BVU in 2015 with an art degree and currently resides in her hometown of Malvern with her mother, two siblings and Trixie, the family dog. Bassich enjoys working within the field of public library services as the local library director at Malvern Public Library.

Leslie Franzmeier

Franzmeier is the autism strategist for Prairie Lakes AEA and a special education consultant. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa and her master's degree from Morningside College. Franzmeier has been a special education teacher for 30 years and advocates for services for children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Franzmeier is a grandmother to Cecelia and has two adult children. Her husband farms.

For a detailed schedule of events, visit www.choosebluestormlake.com, or for additional information, please contact Sennett at 410-916-6200 or chooseblue2017@gmail.com.

About Buena Vista University

Since 1891, Buena Vista University has prepared students for lifelong success and blends liberal arts with real-world applications. Our traditional campus on the shores of Storm Lake hosts students in a variety of majors and pre-professional programs, including elementary, secondary, and special education; business and accounting; and biological and chemical sciences. Our 16 degree-completion locations, online, and graduate programs expand student potential with a pace and academic rigor designed for working adults and a variety of class formats that make scheduling even more convenient. With an average scholarship of more than 50 percent off of tuition, BVU is an affordable option for all students. Visit www.bvu.edu.