MIND Institute Fall Festival draws hundreds of families

Free event featured trunk-or-treat and was a great fit for children with autism, fragile X syndrome and ADHD


More than 600 people turned out for the MIND Institute’s annual Fall Festival last weekend. The event, which was free and open to the public, featured a trunk-or-treat, resource booths and costumes. Volunteers handed out over 15,000 pieces of candy.

This was the first walk-through event since 2019. The past two years were held in a drive-through format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was such a joy to be able to connect with people more fully again this year,” said Erin Roseborough, a child life specialist who started the fall festival several years ago. “We loved being able to talk with families, see their kids’ costumes and share in the festivities together.

A family featuring two adults and three kids – one a baby in a stroller - pose on Hay Bales near a “Fall Festival” sign. They are dressed in Halloween costumes.

The Fall Festival is a great fit for children with fragile X syndrome, autism, ADHD, 22q 11.2 deletion syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. It’s non-scary, sensory-friendly and welcoming to all.

“Our goal is always to provide a safe space where children and families can be themselves,” said Veronica Tuss, a child life specialist who helped to plan the event. “Neighborhood trick-or-treating can be a challenging activity for many kids, and we love being able to provide an alternative.”

The event featured cars decorated by the NorCal Challengers, a group of auto enthusiasts that has been supporting the Fall Festival for five years. They also donated candy and funds to the Child Life Fund. League for Hope, Princess Pals and Sacramento Astromech Builders also helped to hand out candy.

Erin Roseborough
It was such a joy to be able to connect with people more fully again this year.” We loved being able to talk with families, see their kids’ costumes and share in the festivities together.”Erin Roseborough, child life specialist

Several organizations also decorated booths and shared resources, including:

Family Time at the MIND

The Fall Festival is one of many “Family Time at the MIND” events throughout the year hosted by the child life team at the MIND Institute. These free events are open to all and fun for the whole family. Other events have included art shows, movie and game nights and a back-to-school picnic and resource fair.

Child life specialists are developmental experts trained to provide evidence-based interventions to help reduce fear, anxiety and pain for children. These can include therapeutic play and preparation for medical procedures.

The event was made possible thanks to the generosity of donors. Donations to the Child Life Fund are always welcome. For questions, email hs-mindchildlife@ucdavis.edu.

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif. was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments and potential prevention of challenges associated with neurodevelopmental disabilities. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at mindinstitute.ucdavis.edu.

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