Tennessee employees, including one whose son has autism, volunteer at autism acceptance event
Shana Pearson-Henry, a U.S. Bank employee for 20 years, holds one cause particularly close to her heart: autism acceptance.
“My youngest son Jacob is autistic,” said Pearson-Henry, who lives in Rogersville, Tennessee, with her family of five. Jacob, 17, is a senior in high school. “Schoolwork is challenging for him, but he loves art. He also spends a lot of time bowling for the high school team and works at a local grocery store a few days a week.”
Jacob, in fact, won overall first place at a regional competition and qualified for the state bowling tournament at a Special Olympics event last fall. At the Tennessee competition, he was named state champion.
“It was a proud and exciting moment for Jacob,” she said.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. One in 36 children were identified with autism in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Autism Acceptance Month, held in April, is intended to promote inclusion and connectedness for people with autism to help them achieve optimal health and reach their full potential.
When Pearson-Henry heard that U.S. Bank this year was sponsoring a Knoxville-area Autism Acceptance Family Fun Day, presented by the Autism Society of East Tennessee and Autism Breakthrough of Knoxville, she was thrilled to get involved with Jacob.
“It showed me that U.S. Bank cares about causes that affect me,” she said.
About 15 employees and their families volunteered at the Family Fun Day, including Pearson-Henry and Jacob.
“Jacob said he had so much fun. He loved helping with the games and meeting all the people.”U.S. Bank Branch Manager Crystal Pierce added, “Throughout this process, I have learned more about the organization, their purpose and their goals to enable individuals with autism to lead full and purposeful lives. The organization’s purpose and cause has touched many individuals who work with us and we have had a constant stream of requests for information both for volunteering and many who are interested in involvement with the organization beyond the event.
U.S. Bank Fraud Investigator Kevin Carpenter also volunteered and led interactive activities for attendees. “The event offered a great opportunity for us to get out into the community,” he said. “We work for an amazing company that encourages us to get out and to contribute. Volunteering is a great way to help those who may not be able to help themselves or need that extra assistance which is the best part about partnering with Autism Breakthrough of Knoxville.”
U.S. Bank honors Autism Acceptance Month in various ways, including hosting an employee event led by an internal panel where a group of autistic U.S. Bank employees shared their knowledge and experience of autism to reduce stigma and offer insights into how to create a more inclusive and accepting work environment for everyone.
Pearson-Henry added, “I personally know how autism impacts a family, so the more acceptance we have in our community, the better it is for all of us.”
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