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Partner Spotlight

Partner Spotlight: Andrew Baumann, President/CEO
New York Families for Autistic Children

NYFAC Hosts Successful “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” Mother’s Day Event

Andrew Baumann speaks to guests at Mother's Day event.As president and CEO of New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC), Andrew Baumann speaks straight from the heart to parents who face each day with the challenges of having a child with a developmental disorder. Baumann’s 11-year-old son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, so he knows from experience what parents are going through. That is why, when he learned about the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign, he knew NYFAC needed to get involved.

“When I learned about the CDC’s campaign, I was thrilled,” Baumann says. “Having a child with a developmental disability like autism doesn’t have to be a weight around your neck. This campaign educates parents and teaches them to look for early warning signs.”

Baumann learned of the campaign at a national autism summit in 2004. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was creating this childhood development campaign to educate parents about the importance of early intervention - something that Baumann and his wife found critical. Along with four other families, the Baumanns had created NYFAC as a support system for New York families of children with developmental disabilities. NYFAC had always stressed early intervention as an effective way to get help.
Dr. Cordero, New York City Councilman Monserrate, Eva La Rue and Deputy Surgeon General Moritsugu at the Mother's Day event
Several months after attending the conference, Baumann attended a “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign training session in New York City. This session strengthened his belief that NYFAC would be a perfect partner to help CDC raise awareness of this important issue.

“After learning about the campaign messages, activities and initiatives at the training session, I knew I could help,” says Baumann. “I talked with the session leaders from CDC and told them that NYFAC would be a perfect partner, and that we wanted to help kick off this campaign in New York in a big way.”

In early 2005, CDC began to plan a Mother’s Day media event drawing attention to the issues and highlighting the connection between mothers and the campaign. Baumann helped secure the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York as the event location. He also helped fill the auditorium with children, parents and teachers. With a long list of personal contacts, including New York dignitaries, political officials and community leaders, Baumann gave input on the event guest list. He also reached out to local officials, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to help raise awareness of the campaign.

Eva LaRue interacts with kids attending event.Through NYFAC, Baumann also helped publicize the Mother’s Day event. The event included celebrity mom Eva La Rue (formerly of “All My Children”), Deputy Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu and National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) Director Dr. José Cordero. All three spoke about the importance of monitoring not only a child’s physical health, but also social and cognitive development. To help spread the word, NYFAC posted information about the event on its website, distributed flyers, sent out a media alert to local outlets and promoted the campaign and event on a local cable access program.

“We wanted to do everything we could to help CDC kickoff the ‘Learn the Signs. Act Early.’ campaign here in New York City,” says Baumann. “I learned first hand that early intervention is key in helping a child with a developmental disability succeed. With NYFAC’s concept of families helping families, and CDC’s awareness campaign, there is nothing that any family in New York can’t do to help a child reach his or her full potential.”

Thanks to Baumann’s and NYFAC’s help, the event had an auditorium full of parents and childcare providers seeking information. There was also interest from both local and national media. Interviews with local media included Queens Chronicle, El Correor de Queens and Queens Public Access Television. National media interest was also obtained from Soap Opera Digest and “Good Morning America”.

Baumann’s passion and dedication to the cause are evident in his commitment to promoting the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” Mother’s Day event. As a father, he understands what parents today are going through having a child with a developmental disability. As a campaign partner and champion, he is using his resources and passion to help change today’s childhood development climate.

For more information on NYFAC, please visit www.nyfac.org.

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