A number of students put their video-game skills to the test during a Nintendo Wii tournament that was held at Bellevue College earlier this month. The event’s purpose was to bring awareness about autism to the community, along with raising funds to benefit the college’s Autism Spectrum Navigators program.
The participants, Bellevue College students and others, paid $10 to compete in the video-game tournament where players battled each other in Nintendo’s popular video game, Super Smash Brothers. Some non-students who participated were as young as 13. All proceeds went toward the Autism Spectrum Navigators program.
“This tournament is a great way to get the word out that there is support for students with autism, that they can attend college and be successful,” said Sara Gardner, the program’s adviser. “And the more people who come and contribute the more autistic students Bellevue College will be able to serve.”
Draza Milo, who volunteers for the autism program at Bellevue College, said that it's hoped that the program grows.
“There are currently 20 students in the ASN program, but the program hopes that the number involved in the ASN eventually increases.”
The program was established last year to help autistic students gain the essential skills to successfully complete college and lead a productive life. Students in the program attend weekly meetings with peer mentors and participate in group classes and discussions. The ASNavigators are associated with Bellevue College’s Disabilities Resource Center. To learn more visit ASNavigators’ Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ASNavigators.
Those who participated in the video game tournament were broken up into designated rooms, which were connected to the cafeteria. As each match progressed, winners from the preliminaries were moved to another room to compete for the top three placing seeds in the tournament. Ana Laura was the third place winner, with Kyle Whitworth coming in second. Brian Wu took first place and won a signed collector’s edition of the video game “Guild Wars Nightfall.” Whitworth took home a “Portal 2” video game gift box.
A free buffet was provided for guests, courtesy of Bellevue College. A book sale and a silent auction were also held; gift baskets, jewelry, retail gift cards, artwork, scarves and knitted hats were among items that were auctioned off. All of the proceeds went toward the ASN program. Guest speakers also took part in this event, including Lynne Banki, Executive Director of Autism Day Washington.
Banki talked about teaching people who have autism as well as her experiences with her autistic son, Caspian. Banki and her son wrote a book, “What Autism Means to Me.” Other speakers talked about technology addiction, healthy video-game usage and how autistic kids explain to others about their condition and what they go through.
ERIN ACACIO is a student in the University Of Washington Department Of Communication News Laboratory.