Walking for Awareness

Published 9:33 am Tuesday, April 19, 2016


AHOSKIE – Levar Newsome is truly a local hero.

As the founder of the Hertford County Autism Walk, that annual was held Saturday, April 16 at the Ahoskie Amphitheater.

Newsome initiated the walk that spotlights and supports the organization K.A.A.M.P (Keeping Autism Awareness Moving Proudly), an organization for which he serves as the CEO.

Newsome started the local Autism Awareness Walk three years ago because he has a daughter who has Autism and wanted to raise local awareness of the disease.

According to Autism Speaks, Autism affects one in 68 children and the prevalence numbers are growing. Newsome shares the Autism Society’s perspective that schools and communities should ensure acceptance and inclusion of Autistic students that will result in true appreciation of their unique talents and gifts.

Newsome has spearheaded an initiative to raise money for the Autistic population locally. He elicited local sponsors to get his project off the ground, had T-shirts made that were sold to raise money for KAAMP, and finally organized the annual walk.

Each year the event has grown, starting with around 70 walkers to over 100 this year.

Newsome said he purchases materials with the profits from the walk and gives them to local schools to be used in special needs classrooms. He has purchased I pads, calculators, and educational sensory devices used in sensory integration therapy. Many people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) experience sensory overload, their brains have trouble processing or filtering many sensations at once.

This year, college scholarships will also be given to eligible autistic students.

Newsome led up to Saturday’s event with K.A.A.M.P hosting its inaugural “Blue Friday”. It was an AUTISM AWARENESS CHALLENGE issued to all social media users and the community. This announcement was posted by Newsome on social media.

“This was held on the eve of Hertford County 3rd Annual Walk for Autism,” Newsome stated. “We asked everyone to wear any shade of blue and post it to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media to show your support for K.A.A.M.P and Autism Awareness.”

Newsome said the walk was a huge success. It provided community fellowship, snacks, and music. A good time was had by young and old alike.

Newsome, quoting Stuart Duncan, said, “Autism, like a rainbow, has a bright side and a dark side and even though it can mean rough weather, it can be beautiful.”

That quote was printed on one of his t-shirts to explain how he feels about Autism.

It was suggested that participants walk nine laps at the event, but Newsome encouraged everyone to do the best they could.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse were in attendance along with the Buffalo Soldier Motorcycle Club of Virginia. Gus Newsome, Levar’s brother, is a member of the motorcycle club.

Keischa Pruden, a proud member of K.A.A.M.P., is developing a support group to provide emotional support for parents/caregivers and concerned advocates of Autism Awareness. This group will provide a network and educational opportunities for those interested. There will be bi-monthly meetings. If interested in obtaining information about joining the group, contact Pruden at (252) 398-7913.

April is Autism Awareness month, which is celebrated globally. Walks for the commemoration of Autism Awareness were begun by Autism Speaks and in many cities, teams are formed to walk and bring focus to the cause.