World-renown speaker, professor of animal sciences and autism awareness advocate, Dr. Temple Grandin was in Bonnyville last week for a two speaking engagements presented by Rednecks with a Cause. Dr. Grandin took a day to speak with ranchers and persons working with animals and another day addressing autism; giving educators and parents valuable lessons and tools to assist in the development of child.
Organizer Kristy L’Hirondelle said the events far exceeded the organizations expectations.
“It was a dream of mine for Temple Grandin to come to Bonnyville.”
Kristy, who’s 12 year old son, Brody is diagnosed on the autism spectrum, said when she first brought up the idea of bringing in Dr. Grandin, some members didn’t believe it would happen. “I had one member, I should say former member, laugh at me and say I was crazy if I thought we could bring her in.”
Crazy or not, Kristy’s dream became a goal of the Rednecks with a Cause and that goal was fulfilled last week.
President of Rednecks with a Cause, Gary Mostert, said, “it took a lot of amazing people and hard work, but we are here.” There was never a doubt in Gary’s mind that the Rednecks with a Cause would come.
Bringing a day for ranchers was a bonus for the group, said Gary, “we wanted to show that we support everyone. She is known for her work with animals and we live in an area with a lot of ranchers.” It only made sense to ask for the two engagements.
The ranchers/cattlemen session was an intimate affair with 100 attendees. The session focused on Dr. Grandin’s techniques, ideas, and theory behind animal behaviour and how ranchers can improve their operations by implementing her ideas.
The second day saw over 700 attendees and focused on Dr. Grandin’s knowledge of autism and how she never allowed her diagnosis to define her or hold her back.
Dr. Temple Grandin addressed the importance of having work outside of your diagnosis during her address to the educators. “I worked for ten years with animals before I ever began working in autism [awareness].” She stressed the importance of kids or adults on the spectrum not to become their diagnosis. “To find something they are great and and encourage them to explore it.”
“When it comes to kids being labeled, autistic, ADHD, dyslexic… whatever it may be, they tend to be really good at one thing,” the doctor explained. “Take the thing that kids are good at and build on it!”
Kristy said the sessions were worth it from just hearing the feedback from the parents and educators that attended, “I had a lady tell me this changed her life.”
With someone as prestigious as Dr. Temple Grandin coming to town, one must ask, ‘what’s next for the Rednecks with a Cause?’. To which Gary replied, “anything is possible. We proved that [with these sessions].”
Gary said the group will continue to bring in speakers to help educators and parents better understand and receive tools and knowledge to assist children, and adults with autism.
The group also plans to one day open a facility for kids on the spectrum. A safe place to play & learn and for parents to be able to take their children with ease and comfort.
Up next for the organization is their annual gala, which will be held April 7th at the Beaver River Fish & Game Building in Bonnyville.