Day At The Track

Racing to spread awareness of Autism

03:38 PM 31 Mar 2019 NZDT
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RACING FOR A CAUSE
RACING FOR A CAUSE: Phoenix Bateup (top) with mother Amie (right) and Ashlee Grives
Chris Seabrook Photo

MONDAY'S Bathurst Harness Racing Club meeting will be used as a means to spread awareness of the Autism Community Network's cause.

The day came together thanks to the work of Autism Community Network's community engagement coordinator Amie Bateup, who has a proud history with the Bathurst harness industry.

Bateup, a former harness driver and sister to current trainer Ashlee Grives, said it was wonderful to receive the full support of Bathurst Harness Racing to put the day together.

"We want to spread out services into the Central West and given the relationships that I have with harness racing, and having the races on TV, I thought it would be a great way to hopefully get the word out there," she said.

"They've allowed us to effectively take over the race meeting, naming races after what we see fit, that create inclusion and awareness of autism."

Some of those names being used for the races include Paralympic swimmer Mitchell Kilduff and ACN president Warren Thompson.

With Bateup's son Phoenix being on the spectrum it's a day that has added meaning for her.

"I'd taken time off my full-time role to help with his development, spending four months at home with him. There had been some major breakthroughs and changes then we got the diagnosis.

"I was lying in bed one night thinking 'I need to get back to work', and then this job come about. It's crazy that I get paid to do what I do because I'm learning so much about it, which in turns helps him develop.

"We'd love to bring our organisation to town and venture through the whole Central West if we can. Everything we do is for free. It's a service focused on both the children and also their carers."

Grives said the meeting promotes an important cause to get behind.

"It's something close to our family at the moment. Harness racing is a great way to reach out for these things, so I'm more than happy to be on board and do my part," she said.

Monday's seven race meeting at Bathurst starts from 2.05pm.

Being the first Bathurst event since the Gold Crown Carnival's conclusion, the meeting is dominated by two and three-year-old events.

The Autism Community Network's awareness campaign is also being carried over into Tuesday's meeting at Menangle.

For those looking to reach out to Autism Community Network or learn more about their services visit autismcommunity.org.au

"We've got 1500 families that we currently support and Bathurst is the next place that we're trying to tackle," Bateup said.

By Alexander Grant

Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

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