Activism in Muncie IN on a Saturday in April

Groups bring awareness, means to environment, abuse, disability

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Children planted trees, youth walked to help those who are abused and others reached out to the autistic on a Saturday of activism in the community.

That One Muncie reached out on a Peace Walk for A Better Way, Arbor Day for Tree City USA and Interlock that raises money and awareness for autism.

Joanne Miller, a park board member called activism active in your community as the city gave away hundreds of new trees at Cooley Park.

That effort, offsetting removal of trees along the White River ordered by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and damage done by Emerald Ash borers. adds to efforts by others to replant the shade and oxygen canopy that covers the community.

Master gardeners like Sherry Riggin, a Delaware County commissioner, were helping youth plant flowers while Ball State's Student Voluntary Services had others paitning trees and flowers.

An early morning Peace Walk up and down White River from Westside Park to DOWNTOWN had nearly 200 people participate.

The charity was A Better Way that raised over $15,000 to helped abused women and children.

Evelyn Good, a victim of violence talked about her transition from abuse to a job at First Merchants and a better life.

About a third of American women are abused while about six million children witness abuse.

Teresa Clemmon, A Better Way director, talked about services and shelter locally for victims of abuse, adding that the event continues to grow after eight years.

Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, was among those who walked and said there continues to be a need for support for those abused or victims of violence.

Another walk to bring awareness to autism attracted more 300 people, as a walk around the fairgrounds along with lunch helped bring families and friends of those disabled by autism together

Tom Donovan, a co-sponsor of Interlock, the local autism awareness group, said the group also grew from last year and raised over $18,000 from corporate and individual sponsors.

Among supporters of that cause include Avis Industrial Corp., Ball State Special Education Department, Hillcroft, and Behavorial Associates of Indiana.

Donovan said the money helps families of those with autism and equipment for those of disability. 

The U.S. Center for Disease Control shows autism is a growing concern with one in 68 children affected, about a tenfold increase during the last 40 years. And the ailment is four times as likely with boys than girls.

Hillcroft knows the need of whose with disability with the organization serving more than 1,400 people in eastern Indiana.

Brenda Williamson, vice president of development and marketing for Hillcroft, said some new services have been offered including Reliable Transit for social visits and other transportation needs and its new ABA clinic for therapy and health care needs.

Hillcroft also operates a workshop and other outreach to those with disability. 

Mayor Dennis Tyler was at the autism event and talked about the need for more awareness and support.