Easter Seals and Google SketchUp Announce New August 20th Deadline for Sketch-a-Space Contest

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There’s still time to Sketch-a-Space for Autism Awareness

Easter Seals’ Sketch-A-Space contest aims to raise autism awareness, especially around the importance of life-long services and supports.

Today, Easter Seals announced the deadline for its online contest Sketch-A-Space, supported by Google SketchUp, will be extended from July 16 to August 20, 2010.

As one of the nation’s largest provider of autism services, Easter Seals is calling for entrants to use the free Google SketchUp software to design a room of their dreams—for a chance to win $2,000 to make their space become a reality.    

“Easter Seals’ Sketch-A-Space contest aims to raise autism awareness, especially around the importance of life-long services and supports,” says Tom Wyman, manager of business development, Google. “We hope it will encourage development of design solutions to address the unique needs of people living with autism and provide an avenue for creative expression.”

Sketch-A-Space for Autism
The competition offers people (living with and without autism) an opportunity to design their ideal, dream space using Google’s free 3-D modeling software, SketchUp. Entries can be submitted at http://www.easterseals.com/sketchaspace between April 26, 2010 and August 20, 2010. Winners will be announced in early Fall 2010.

To determine the Sketch-A-Space winners, Easter Seals secured a team of five leading experts to review and select the three finalists and one grand prize $2,000 winner. Each judge is an accomplished professional with significant expertise in architecture, design and autism:

  •     David Bromstad, artist, designer, the original HGTV Design Star, and host of HGTV's Color Splash Miami (http://www.bromstad.com)
  •     Aidan Chopra, Google Product Evangelist, architect and author
  •     Brad Keith, lead architect on Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago’s Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research (designed specifically for children with autism)
  •     Mardie Oakes, executive director, Hallmark Community Solutions, and housing developer with a passion for making the places people live the places people thrive
  •     Maurice Snell, as a man living with autism he’s personally aware of the unique needs of people on the spectrum

Physical Space & Autism
A lumpy chair, a flickering light, an incessant car alarm. Minor distractions for most, but for many people with autism, such basic components of a room – the buzz of florescent lighting, a zigzag pattern on carpet, a vibrant wall color, or random furniture arrangement – can often prove debilitating.

“When it comes to living with autism, a person’s physical space and environment can be particularly important. Many individuals with autism report increased sensitivity to sounds, smells, tactile and their visual stimuli – unique needs that need to be addressed,” says Patricia Wright, PhD, MPH, national director, autism services, Easter Seals.

Google SketchUp was originally developed for users to design and communicate in 3-D. After its introduction, Google learned its free software was very popular among people with autism, many of whom are visually and spatially gifted and especially adept at creating 3-D models. Today, Google SketchUp is helping people with autism use their strengths to express their creativity and develop marketable employment skills.

“Joining up with Google SketchUp for this contest makes perfect sense,” adds Wright. “Not only is it a wonderful tool for individuals with autism to express themselves, it’s a great way for entrants to share their creative ideas for what makes a comfortable and safe space, whether it be a bedroom, family room, classroom or office.”

Given the increased prevalence of autism, and its greater public awareness, more professionals are beginning to consider the design needs of individuals with autism through Universal Design.

“It’s important for families living with autism and professionals to begin to think differently about space – see environments through the eyes of a person living with autism and work together to find flexible, personalized solutions,” says Mardie Oakes, housing developer and contest judge.

For more about Easter Seals Sketch-A-Space contest, visit http://www.easterseals.com/sketchaspace.

About Easter Seals
Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For more than 90 years, we have been offering help and hope to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. Support children and adults with disabilities at http://www.easterseals.com or http://www.actforautism.org.


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Rachel Talen
Easter Seals
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