GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s a loud and busy world out there, especially for people with autism. Coming up next week, there is a special event designed to celebrate inclusiveness for local families of people with autism.

Hope Network is hosting its Blue Bridge Walk for Autism at 5 p.m. Thursday. The annual event is all about celebrating inclusiveness for local families of people with autism. Organizers expect more than a thousand people for this year’s walk.

In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that approximately 1 in 44 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Thursday’s event is an opportunity for families to meet other families that share the same experiences and learn more about available resources.

“It’s really important for the families to have an evening like this where they can come together with other people whose families look the same. They experience the same issues, the same challenges, the same triumphs, and to be able to come together and have this unique community of people who come together for the same purpose,” Erik Wolenberg, executive director of the Hope Network Foundation, said.

Hope Network is partnering with the Grand Rapids Public Museum to offer a free sensory-friendly experience to families affected by autism following the bridge walk. The museum will adapt the sounds, lighting and activities within its current exhibits to create a low-sensory experience.

Click here to sign up for the 5 p.m. event and people can also sign up on-site on Thursday.