ALBANY, N.Y. (July 11, 2007) -- The second annual "Swim the Canal for Kids' Mental Health" will run from July 18-22 to heighten awareness of children's mental health issues and raise money for the Children's Mental Health Fund. The Fund, established by the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Football League Alumni Association in 2006, provides financial support for outreach programs at Four Winds Saratoga and Psychiatric Services and the University at Albany's Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD). The programs help meet the needs of children with mental illnesses, their families, educators and community professionals.
The swim, which covers a 112-mile stretch of Lake Champlain, the Champlain Canal and the Hudson River, is being sponsored by the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Football League Alumni Association.
Last year's event raised $6,000 for the Fund.
"Autism is a complex disability and educating community professionals, families, and school personnel to better understand this condition is imperative," said CARD Director Kristin V. Christodulu.
The Autism Society of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans and their families are now affected by autism. In New York State, there has been an almost 400% increase in number of students with autism from 1996 to 2005. The current statewide estimate of students with this disability is nearly 14,000. The drastic increase in number of children being diagnosed with autism has presented a major challenge to special education programs. A tremendous need for services has been identified locally and statewide, and this past year alone CARD Albany provided 130 school, community, and parent trainings to over 4,500 individuals in 45 counties.
For further information on how to support the Champlain Canal Swim, call Steven Kirk at (518) 283-3507.