4Aligning AUTISMFORUNIQUE EXPERIENCES<<While visiting Botanica, The Wichita Gardens, visitors from Heartspring’s sister organization in China, Stars and Rain, had the opportunity to meet with Executive Director Marty Miller for an exclusive tour and sneak peek of the new Chinese Garden of Friendship opening in Spring 2015. The group also got to share their interpretations of the Chinese-inspired artwork in the new garden. Ten years ago, Hope, founder of the Stars and Rain Education Institute for Autism in Beijing, China and a mother of a child with autism, was introduced to Heartspring and its President and CEO, Dr. Gary Singleton. A partnership was born, bonded together by a passion to create better opportunities for children with autism. For Hope, growing her organization and educating her country was far more than a desire, it was a crucial need. For Heartspring, it was a unique opportunity to help an organization provide a platform for others who want to grow and encourage initiatives in a country where resources were virtually non-existent. This partnership also served as a foundation for Heartspring to build better relationships with other international programs.Stars and Rain also founded the Heart Alliance Autism Network, composed of organizations aiming to create a “barrier-free society with equal rights and opportunities” for individuals with autism. Through incredible advocacy work, this group of organizations continues to train others, and extend their support system to include 230 non-governmental organizations (NGO) across China, the largest NGO network in China.Through the Heart Alliance, Stars and Rain sends a delegation of parents and professionals eager to learn from the qualified staff at Heartspring each year. They observe the facilities and receive training in all disciplines. In continuing the exchange program, Heartspring representatives also travel to China to visit individuals and parents working with Stars and Rain to create their own programs and to share their knowledge at conferences and events. A DECADE OF DIFFERENCE
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