Families celebrate `Autism Awareness Month` at Brookfield Zoo - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Families celebrate `Autism Awareness Month` at Brookfield Zoo

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Just like most 4-year-olds, little Freddie Greenwood loves animals. But, Freddie is different. He has autism.

And Saturday was a special day at Brookfield Zoo, just for kids like Freddie.

In honor of "Autism Awareness Day," the zoo partnered up with "Autism Speaks" for the 2nd Annual Autism Awareness event.

The zoo offered special programs for the more than 500 families that took part; families like Krista and her 14-year-old son, Justyn.

"The zoo has done so much in the last few years in addressing people with diverse needs," Krista says.

That's the idea behind this day -- to help children with autism connect to animals, to the natural world and to each other.

"We want them to know that the Brookfield Zoo is with them," the Brookfield Zoo's Matthew Mayer explains. "We want to be a resource, we want to support them."

The day is also about making our state more aware and more welcoming to those with disabilities.

"More than anything it's about promoting awareness and letting others know that we are out there and we are unique and it's okay," says Lisa Garcia.

"The awareness is out there so they are comfortable coming out with their children and if a child has a behavior it's accepted and it's a welcoming environment for our families," says Mary Rios with Autism Speaks.

Even the governor was there to show his support and declare today, Autism Awareness Day.

"I really want to commend the zoo for its commitment to all of our people," Pat Quinn announced at the event. "Everybody's in, nobody's left out."

For little Freddie, the day was a smashing success!

"Aquatic center. He loves that, just laying down and looking at the fish it's one of his favorite this is one of his most favorite places to be," says Angela Greenwood.

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