Shooting 2 Change doing wonders for autism

FROM STAFF REPORTS / Editorial

We’ve all been out at a restaurant and heard a kid crying or screaming, and in the back of our minds we ask ourselves, ‘Why are the parents allowing that to happen, why don’t they just take them outside?’ But have we ever truly considered what is going on with that family?

Thompson head basketball coach Dru Powell started a program known as Shooting 2 Change six years ago in hopes of creating awareness for what you may not be thinking about.

Shooting 2 Change is an initiative that began when Powell learned that his son Parker had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder to help break down social barriers between those without autism and those with.

“It impacts so many people across the state, and we’re just trying to reach our goal of raising awareness,” Powell said. “A lot of times people don’t realize what people with ASD go through on a daily basis. For people to realize that is important to all the families involved because of what they go through every day. It’s a comforting feeling to know that others understand what you are going through instead of judging you or your kids.”

Just that level of social acceptance and comfort from people around them instead of looks of judgement can make all the difference in the world to a family with a son or daughter who has ASD.

And since starting Shooting 2 Change, Powell has tried his best to help promote awareness.

An event that started when he was at Spanish Fort in Baldwin County with the idea of just seven coaches wearing a T-shirt to coach high school games, has since turned into around 1,000 shirts being worn statewide during this year’s event.

While he’s now in his second year at Thompson High School, the goal still remains the same despite being 200-plus miles away from where it originated.

“Our goal was to have people asking why they are wearing those shirts instead of wearing the typical suit and tie or team gear,” Powell said.

Now, it’s not only impacting the high school game statewide, but Troy and South Alabama competed in a Shooting 2 Change game on Friday, Feb. 7, while the University of Alabama and Auburn University have both honored the cause as well.

“It’s been special to watch it grow and to see the support,” Powell said.

You have to give Powell credit for jumping into this challenge with open arms, but he’ll tell you it’s all because of Parker and how strong he is. He’s not scared to take on his autism, which has led to him teaching his parents more than they thought they could ever know.

That’s what we all need to get.

While you may not enjoy a screaming kid at a restaurant, have some compassion. If you’re a parent and don’t have a kid with autism, you’ve likely been in a situation where your kid has thrown a temper tantrum in public too.

So the least we can all do is have some compassion for others, and honestly, just be a little nicer. You don’t know what anybody is dealing with, so next time you have the urge to judge somebody, we urge you to reconsider.