Video game tournament to benefit Bellevue College autism program

Date posted: March 27, 2013

On April 13, Bellevue College will hold the second-annual Autism Awareness Video Game Tournament to raise funds for its innovative Autism Spectrum Navigators program, which helps autistic students achieve success in the classroom.

“The money raised at last year’s event has helped our program nearly triple the number of students we serve. With support from the community, we’re hoping to raise even more money this year, so we can help more autistic students at Bellevue College succeed,” said Sara Gardner, the program’s manager, who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder herself.

For just $10, players of all ages can enter and compete in games of Super Mario Kart on the Nintendo Wii, with prizes handed out to the top competitors. In addition to the tournament, the event will feature several seminars designed to educate parents and others in the community about autism:

  • Transition starts now: Preparing your student for college and beyond – 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Your brain on video games –12:45 to 1:30 p.m.
  • A panel of Bellevue College students currently in the Autism Spectrum Navigators program will discuss their experiences living with the condition – 1:45 to 2:30 p.m.
  • Trusting your instincts: Choosing autism therapies – 2:45 to 3:30 p.m.

There will be also be a silent auction with a variety of items, including an exclusive tour of the studios of Valve Software, the producer of the popular “Portal” video game series and other best-selling titles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released its revised estimate that 1 in 50 schoolchildren in the United States may have an autism spectrum disorder, surpassing an earlier federal study that stated 1 in 88 likely have a form of autism. This means autism may affect 1 million American children.

Bellevue College created the Autism Spectrum Navigators program in 2011 to help autistic students gain the skills necessary to successfully complete college and lead a productive life. Students in the program have access to a network of support, including meetings each week with trained peer mentors and participation in group classes and discussions.

“This is a condition that affects so many young people, and we need programs like this that can help students access college and campus services so they can have the bright future they deserve,” Gardner said.

WHAT:  Second-annual Autism Awareness Video Game Tournament

WHEN:  Saturday, April 13; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE:  Cafeteria, C Building on the main campus of Bellevue College, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE

WHO:  People of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate in the tournament;

COST:  Free admission to event (including seminars); $10 fee to participate in the tournament

QUESTIONS:  Visit or contact Sara Gardner, program manager, at (425) 564-2172 or