Even though Autism Awareness Month comes to a close today, there’s always something to be done to get to word out about autism–just ask Seattle Seahawks linebacker Terence Garvin.

Garvin rounded up some of his friends and former teammates in the league–Washington football team cornerback Greg Toler, New York Giants linebacker J.T. Thomas and Chicago Bears wide receiver Markus Wheaton–to help promote autism awareness and acceptance with the inaugural “Post Your Best, Its Not a Test” social media campaign.

Garvin said his one of his nieces, who has a form autism that doesn’t allow her to speak, is a big part of why he’s using his platform to raise awareness about autism and spark a conversation amongst his followers.

“I wanted to contribute something for it a little bit,” Garvin said. “Everybody has a different fight, a different cause. My family appreciates me, but it’s something they’ve been fighting.”

The monthlong contest and campaign, which uses the hashtags #postyourbest, #itsnotatest and #AutismAwareness, prompts social media users to post photos to honor Autism Awareness Month and brings the movement to Twitter and Instagram.

The campaign not only encourages fans to share their acceptance of autism with their followers, it also rewards whoever posts the best photo with a box full of NFL goodies from each of the players involved.

Garvin’s 14-year-old niece, who he said has a great golf game and is good at track, gives him inspiration in his efforts to get more people involved in understanding the developmental disorder that affects one in 68 children in the country, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“She inspires me because she keeps going,” he said. “[She] just showed me just keep going [because] a lot of things could be different.”

“It’s not a failure to have autism.”

He also wants to destigmatize autism and help people understand that people with autism can do just as much as people who are not on the spectrum.

“It’s not like you’re a person who can’t function, you’re not a person who shouldn’t be here,” Garvin said. “It’s not a failure to have autism.”

Another source of inspiration for Garvin to use his platform for the greater good is his father, who died during Garvin’s first year in the league.

“My dad was really my best friend,” Garvin said, “So right now I’m carrying on a dream that we started when I was eight. That makes me happy every day, it makes me really wake up and really know I want to work harder every day, because I know he’s still watching me.”

Outside of autism awareness, Garvin continues to pay it forward by helping young people fulfill their football hopes.

“I like to inspire people and help them make it to their dreams,” Garvin said. He acknowledged that his platform allows him to give young people advice and help them get a leg up with his connections at the high school, college and professional levels.

His advice for his younger self?

I would say stay focused,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter what anybody tells you, what anybody tells you you can or cannot do or who can and can’t be.”

posted on 04/30/2017 by Anika Reed
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