Monday, May 21, 2018

Autism Awareness at Edward Murphy Elementary School

 Autism Awareness inspires #newfriendships at 
Edward Murphy Elementary School

This past April during Autism Awareness Month, Edward Murphy teachers Ms. Alana Goodings and Ms. Cynthia Fugnitto decided to change things up. Their goal was to create programming that involved all students and staff, and give them the opportunity to get to know, understand  and befriend their peers with autism. Their creative, multiple programs not only heightened awareness about autism, it created new friendships. Here's what they did!


Autism class teachers Ms. Alana Goodings and Ms. Cynthia Fugnitto initiated Fun 15 with Friends, a reverse integration program where mainstream students and staff spend time with students with autism to increase awareness and social interaction. Over 80 students and staff volunteers spent their morning recess, on a rotating basis, interacting with students in their two autism classrooms. 

Goodings and Fugnitto held a sensitization session prior to starting Fun 15 with Friends, where Issues like how to be a friend and sensitivities that a person with autism may have were discussed. Each of the 17 “friend groups” created an artistic tree that was displayed on a wall board outside of one of the autism classrooms, symbolizing new friendships. Goodings and Fugnitto would like to see this type of initiative continue, and hope to do so next year.


Teacher Alana Goodings with logo winners Daniella Alessi, William Campbell,
Jacob Caligiuri, and teacher Cynthia Fugnitto
Fifty-eight Edward Murphy students participated in a logo contest to promote autism awareness. The goal was to have students think about autism and what it means to them, and put it in their own words and drawings. The logos were displayed on a wall board, and reviewed on May 10 by judges Krista Leitham, coordinator of the Autism Speaks Canada – Montreal Walk, Wendy Singer, managing editor of Inspirations News, and Dolores De Michele, school secretary at Edward Murphy. 

The judges were impressed and touched by the sensitivity and beauty of each logo. The winning logo depicting a super-hero style “A” was created by Grade 5 student William Campbell. It was chosen for its message of strength and encouragement, and its replicability. Campbell’s prize was a pizza party for his whole class! 
Logo winner William Campbell beside his winning design "A"

Second prize went to Grade 2 student Daniella Alessi for the sincere message of help and friendship that her logo portrayed. The third winner was Jacob Caligiuri, Grade 1, whose logo shared love and friendship, synonymous with Fun 15 with Friends. It also had no words, representing the many people with autism that are non-verbal.  
2nd prize -  Daniella Alessi
3rd prize -  Jacob Caliguiri

1st prize - William Campbell


Edward Murphy has also embarked on a fundraising campaign to create a book and resource collection of autism-related material in their library. These English and French-language publications are for kids with autism, their siblings, and teachers. Edward Murphy teachers have also began sharing lesson plans. They welcome your support by either donating at Go Fund Me – Autism Awareness Library Initiative 2018 or purchase a book on their wish list at – Autism Awareness Library Wish List or Chapters Indigo Wishlist – Wish List: Alana Goodings. 


Join Team Inspirations EMSB to walk and raise funds and awareness for autism, and have a fun Sunday morning! This year, Team Inspirations, EMSB is co-chaired by Alana Goodings and Cynthia Fugnitto. To register, visit, and search for Team Inspirations EMSB. Walk dollars raised support access to resources, inclusive programming, services for young adults, community grants, and world-leading research. For information, contact Alana at or

Ms. Gooding and Ms. Fugnitto would like to thank the Edward Murphy team for helping to make these projects work. They include Ms. Joyce Palmer  (behaviour technician from the ASD class), Ms. Fatima Beg (ASD child care worker), Ms. Karina Macri (school child care worker), Ms. Melissa Cacchiotti (school child care worker), Mme Aurore Chategnier (grade 1 teacher), Mrs. Alana Byer (grade 3/4 teacher), Ms. Elisa Giampa (Phys Ed teacher), Mme Alex Rubino (Resource teacher), Ms. Shirley Douglas (ASD behaviour technician took over additional supervision duties so we could run groups). A special thanks to Principal Mrs. Cristina Celzi for her supportive efforts, and Ms. Dolores, school secretary. Goodings adds: "We also had several student help set up the bulletin boards etc. I was so overwhelmed by all the people who offered their time and help."

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