Being Aware: A new Autism Awareness Collection

In a time where it feels like the news and media are constantly discussing the Coronavirus, it is hard to find positive light when the world seems to be falling apart. But in a time of distress and uncertainty, many companies are doing their best to bring light to the world, even if it’s not centered around COVID-19.

With April 2nd being the start to World Autism Awareness Month, Vans decided to partner up with A.Skate Foundation and launch an entire collection to autism awareness.

This collection includes a variety of shoe styles for kids and adults, as well as some t-shirts, that were specifically designed with sensory inclusive elements. These sensory elements include calming colors as well as “cool” feelings, such as a fuzzy shapes and squishy topping, all focusing on small senses that can be a big deal for those who fall on the spectrum.

“Since 1966, Vans has stood as a champion of individuality and self-expression. With this project, Vans celebrates the unique aspects of all people,” Vans released in their press release.

The idea was presented by Kallie Reyling, one of the Global Footwear Designers for kids footwear at Vans. The collection was created “to celebrate the uniqueness in all of [their] consumers and offer sensory-friendly designs that weren’t overly present in the market,” Ally Peters, the Global Category Manager for Kids Classics Footwear at Vans, told The OCR in an email.

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After visiting Sesame Place for design inspiration, Vans contacted the IBCCES (International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards) to get the new Vans collection sensory certified.

The idea of the collection hit home with the Vans Vice President for Merchandising and Wholesale for the Americas. Tichiaz has a 6-year-old son, Cohen, who falls on the autism spectrum. The design team allowed Tichiaz to be involved with the design process, answering questions and helping come up with ideas. According to an interview with Tichiaz, Cohen approves of the collection, especially the cushion tops.

But Vans isn’t stopping with the collection.

“The goal is not just to shine a light on autism awareness, but also to promote acceptance,” Peters told The OCR. Vans is donating a minimum of $100,000 of the proceeds from this collection to the A.skate Foundation.

A.skate Foundation is a nonprofit that holds clinics for children on the autism spectrum to be able to socialize in a unique way, without necessarily having to “socialize”.

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“We hold clinics for children with autism at no cost to the families, give grants to children with autism for skateboard gear, as well as promote awareness and educate families about the skateboard industry,” A.skate says on their website. “Autism, like skateboarding, can be unpredictable and often times unruly. We embrace the parts of autism that are hard to understand and give these kids an outlet that is free of rules or judgment”.

The proceeds from Vans will allow the A.skate Foundation to teach at least 4,000 children how to skateboard through their program.

•To learn more about the new Autism Awareness collection, visit CNN , The OCR, or Vans.•

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