Sale of cookies at Panera to benefit WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities

“Pieces of Hope for Autism” kicks off April 1

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Everyone loves to indulge in a good cookie now and then, but we are often left feeling guilty over the calories. Now you can eat a cookie, or a dozen, and feel good about your choices. All proceeds from the sale of each Puzzle Piece Shortbread Cookie during Panera’s “Pieces of Hope for Autism” campaign, which will be held during the week of April 1-7, will benefit the intensive Autism Service Delivery Clinic (iASD) at the West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities.

The iASD Clinic serves as a practicum site for WVU students from multiple disciplines, including psychology, social work, education, and educational psychology, to receive supervised training on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) required to become a certified therapist. The iASD Clinic sees children with a diagnosis of autism between the ages of two to six years old. More than 19,500 hours of hands-on ABA training and supervision, not easily accessible in West Virginia, has been provided to WVU students since 2009.

“The iASD Clinic provided a lot of firsts for me, but it also gave me quite a few lasts – because my time there showed me that there is nothing else I would rather do for the rest of my life,” Katie Donahoe, a senior therapist and psychology student from Wheeling, W.Va., said.

One of the main goals of the Clinic is to increase the pre-academic skills of children using ABA therapy. The WVU CED, in partnership with the WVU Department of Pediatrics, has provided more than 10,500 hours of free, intensive, behavioral interventions to West Virginia children with autism spectrum disorder since 2009.

“It is really hard to summarize what the WVU iASD clinic means to our daughter and our family. It is almost indescribable how it feels to hear that your child needs intensive autism therapy every day if she is to have a chance at a normal life and then be faced with the daunting challenge of ‘How can we possibly do this?’ since there was no such place in our area where she could receive as much intensive therapy as she needed,” Sarah Crichingno of Morgantown said. “The doctors who diagnosed her autism wished us good luck. We were so incredibly fortunate to be provided with the opportunity for her to attend the WVU intensive Autism Service Delivery Clinic.”

Puzzle Piece Shortbread Cookies are only available at Panera for one week, and supplies are limited. Panera is encouraging people to preorder their cookies online to be picked up during the week of the campaign. To preorder cookies today, visit http://paneracovelli.com/autismwv.  

Individual cookies are also available for purchase in all West Virginia area cafes and in St. Clairsville, Ohio, and Ashland, Ky.

The “Pieces of Hope for Autism” campaign has raised nearly half a million dollars over the past three years for autism and other developmental disabilities. Each cookie sold will help make a difference in the lives of children and families in West Virginia.


For more information:
Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
md: 03-17-14

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