“Just like anybody else,” families, friends and autism advocates busted a move in the parking lot of Longview Heights Church Saturday.

The Arc Northwest Mississippi’s annual Blue Block Party was held May 1 highlighting autism awareness and acceptance in the DeSoto County community.

Rebecca Treadway, executive director for The Arc Northwest Mississippi, said Saturday’s party was the perfect opportunity for community involvement.

“Our purpose is to bring together individuals who are neuro diverse in the typical functioning community and let people see neuro individuals with autism are just like anybody else,” said Treadway. “We all like to have fun and be friends.

“Our vendors all work with individuals with autism,” Treadway added. “We have Longview Heights and Getwell (churches) which have specific programs for individuals with disabilities. We also have businesses that serve that community as well.”

The block party has grown to a much larger event over the past ten years since it began. 

“We’ve added the sheriff’s department and fire department.” said Treadway. “Last year we had the helicopter come.”

Treadway said precautions are also considered when hosting such larger scale events.

“Families love getting together and having something fun to do outside. This is a safe and protected environment. Sometimes our little ones may want to elope, they’ll run off,” Treadway laughed. “With this many volunteers that’s not going to happen. Our volunteers are trained to look for the signs.”

A dance party set off around 10 a.m. with people showing off their best moves with smiles all around. Outdoors games, chalk art and even the DeSoto County Ghostbusters added to the festive day.

Student volunteers from area high schools, Olive Branch, Hernando and Lewisburg, also participated in making the event fun and safe. 

Volunteer Jared Ufferman, of Olive Branch, was helping with the outdoors bowling activity Saturday.

“This is my first time volunteering with the Blue Block Party,” said Ufferman. “There’s great fellowship with families and the chance to hang out, have some fun and dance.”

Kristin Power, of Hernando, was attending the family centered event with her daughter, Katie, who is 2 1/2 -years-old.

“We just got diagnosed about a year ago,” said Power. “She’s finally getting her therapies and we’re reaching out to autistic groups and Longview. The Arc has been great and helping with some other therapies. We really appreciate them for that.”

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