Chalk the Block to raise awareness for autism

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Chalk the Block, a three-day chalk art festival, is returning for its second year at The Shops at Riverwoods in Provo on Sept. 12–14.

Riverwoods has partnered with Clear Horizons Academy, a school for students with moderate to severe autism, to gather with the community while raising awareness for autism.

Ellie Snyder, a senior from Sioux Falls, S.D., studying dietetics, made plans to go this year after seeing pictures from last year’s event.

“I loved to color my driveway with chalk as a child, so it will be an awesome experience to see some captivating chalk art that far exceeds the quality of my five-year-old art skills,” Snyder said.

Over 100 artists, including four professional artists, will spend three days perfecting their masterpieces before a judging and awards ceremony Saturday evening. Community members can view the art while enjoying live entertainment, food and craft vendors, and a farmers market. Chalk will be provided for children to make a creative masterpiece of their own.

Carol Walker, Clear Horizons’s public relations director, said the Chalk the Block art festival is a great bonding tool for the community as the event facilitators strive to bring awareness to autism.

“We see this as a great family and community event,” Walker said. “It brings the community together in doing something positive and worthwhile.”

Clear Horizons opened eight years ago when founders Brent and Kathryn Wood saw a need for children with autism spectrum disorders. Their granddaughter was diagnosed with autism, and they realized the need for a world-class facility in Utah.

“In Utah, one in 47 children are diagnosed with autism compared to one in 88 nationally,” Walker said.

When the Woods began the project, they had five students. That number has now grown to 60, leading to plans for increased growth and the possible addition of a high school.

As a private facility and a nonprofit school, Clear Horizons relies on donors, grants and events like Chalk the Block to help fund the school. All of the proceeds from the festival will go to Clear Horizons Academy to help give hope to children suffering from autism as well as to their families.

The event will take place Thursday–Saturday, Sept. 12–14, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Judging will start at 6 p.m. on Saturday, followed by awards later that night. Those interested in volunteering for the event may contact Carol Walker at .

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