Autism resource centre needs a place to call home

ORIGINAL STORY: Mitch's Autie Walk is making strides

THE BIG DAY: Pictures, video, story on Mitch's Walk

BENDIGO'S Bourke family is determined to open an autism resource centre in the city despite hitting a major setback.

Twelve-year-old Mitchell, who has autism, raised $29,000 for the centre with Mitch's Autie Walk in March.

The fundraising walk will be an annual national event after autism supporters across the country jumped on board.

Despite the success, Mitch's mother Mychelle is struggling to find a building for Bendigo Community Autism Resource Centre.

"There is nothing suitable at an appropriate lease length or amount," Ms Bourke said.

"We need something for $25,000 a year or under for a minimum of three years."

The centre will ideally be a three or four-bedroom house with two living areas and a large outdoor area. It will be near public transport and can't be in a residential zone.

Ms Bourke also hopes to find a building away from main roads for safety reasons.

She has an industrial area on McDowalls Road, East Bendigo, in mind.

"There is a vacant house there but I'm having trouble finding out if the owners are interested in leasing it," she said.

Ms Bourke believes the house is owned by Hazeldene's chicken farm but her inquiries about the possibility of leasing it have been unsuccessful.

The centre will be for people of all ages who are on the autism spectrum. It will provide sensory and vegetable gardens as well as indoor activities. 

A team of people will volunteer their time to get the centre up and running under the guidance of autism advocate Beck Kelly. 

Ms Bourke said the sooner they could get started, the better.

"Everyone seems to forget that these kids need things to do and they need a routine," she said.

"They need things to do on school holidays that are affordable."

Ms Bourke said Mitch was still as enthusiastic as ever.

"Mitch hasn’t stopped," she said.

"He’s been writing articles for a magazine interstate.

"He's been extremely busy with everything he’s had to do since the walk and now he's counting down to the next one.

"We've already got a lot of support for next year."

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