Police Pleasantries and Ponies Clop Streets of Promenade on April 8 Autism Awareness Day
Coconut Creek Police hold its Annual Autism Awareness Day {Coconut Creek}

By Faran Fagen

Last year, children on the autism spectrum and their friends paraded ponies along the Promenade with smiles as they were cheered by officers as part of the Coconut Creek Police Department’s annual Autism Awareness Day.

The ponies were such a hit that they’re back to relive their hay day this Saturday, April 8, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Promenade, 4467 Lyons Road.

“The kids loved the ponies so much that we had to bring them back,” said Coconut Creek Sergeant Daniel Eberly, Community Services and Supervisor.  

Last year, the Coconut Creek Police Department revived its annual Autism Awareness Day after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

At the event, which celebrates April’s Autism Awareness month, families will meet the officers and firefighters who work to keep their neighborhoods safe and take pictures with first responders.

Personal Ponies Florida, whose miniature therapy ponies are friendly to those on the autism spectrum, provide comforting equine.

Families at the event will also meet up with organizations that provide services to the autism community and learn how police are trained to identify persons with autism to avoid misunderstandings.

Dan Marino Foundation, Best Buddies International, and Home Depot Ken’s Crew will man tables to answer questions for attending families. Therapy Dogs will also be on hand to add another warm animal to the day.

“We’re hoping to bridge the gap between families and the police and other first responders,” Eberly said. “We try to make it so that everyone who attends will feel warm and welcome.”

Last year, Coconut Creek officers also displayed autism awareness magnets on their patrol cars, and some officers wore autism awareness badges on their lapels.

Coconut Creek Police also maintain a Special Needs Program database where family members of persons with autism can input information in case loved ones go lost or missing. The database contains opportunities to enter the individual’s identity, physical description, medical conditions, emergency contacts, and any other information officers can use to locate them during times of distress. It also offers the option to upload a picture of the individual into the database.

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Author Profile

Faran Fagen
Faran Fagen
Faran Fagen, who teaches high school journalism, graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Journalism degree and from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Education. He's worked at The Palm Beach Post, SunSentinel, and MLB.com. He lives in Coral Springs with his wife and two children. Oh, and his three dogs -- who all think that they're his favorite.
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