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SAFE (Supporting Autism Friendly Environments) Program

Parents and child at table talking with student clinicians outside the Mobile Autsim Clinic

VT Women's Basketball Game SAFE Event  

The Virginia Tech Women’s Basketball Team partnered with the SAFE Program and the VT Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research to create a SAFE game in December.  Participation in the SAFE event option included special seating in Cassell Colesium, goodie bags (including stress poppers and ear plugs) and a SAFE space families could visit, if needed.  

We send a sincere thank you to all of the parents, youth, athletes, basketball fans, band members, VTCAR URA volunteers, athletics staff and the Hokie Bird for an incredibly successful SAFE event. The collaboration between VT Athletics and VTAC/CAR/SAFE would not have happened without the inspiration and initiation of WBB player #33, Liz Kitley, who's older sister, Raven, has autism. We are grateful to the VT Women's Basketball (WBB) team and to RU Women's Basketball for a SAFE, family friendly afternoon!  To learn more about VT WBB team's autism acceptance efforts, watch this quick video.





The SAFE (Supporting Autism Friendly Environments) program provides greater access for individuals with autism to attend local venues and participate in community activities. True to Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission, this outreach initiative provides enrichment activities to local families to enhance the quality of life for individuals in our community.


SAFE Community Champion Update

Congratulations to 2020's SAFE Community Champion Jordan Albright!!  As a clinical science graduate student with a full load, her work behind the scenes of planning, training and professional development in order for events and organizations to be ‘SAFE’ approved was top notch.  She would also volunteer her time staffing SAFE events.  We are so grateful for her tireless efforts, longstanding commitment and dedication to the program.  Over the past 3 years, Jordan has organized and implemented at least 12 SAFE trainings! 

Thank you Jordan, for outstanding efforts in creating an inclusive autism friendly environment!

SAFE Goals

Goals for the SAFE Program are twofold: (1) to provide everyday access to entertainment venues for individuals with autism and their families; and (2) to create a culture of awareness and acceptance in our community. While increasing access for meaningful participation in the community by individuals with autism, SAFE also teaches empathy, creating a community of care and compassion – qualities greatly valued by Virginia Tech.

Program Activities

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability typically causing significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. These challenges can make it difficult for individuals with autism to attend a parade, enjoy a fireworks demonstration, or experience entertainment outlets like going to the movies, watching a sporting event, eating out at a restaurant, going bowling, trick-or-treating, and so forth. The SAFE Program endeavors to partner with community organizations, businesses, and Virginia Tech to strategize low or no cost interventions that can increase access for individuals with autism and their families or friends.

The SAFE Program's previous partners include the VT Physics Department’s K-12 Outreach Program, the Universal Design course at VT, the VT Science Festival, Housing and Residential Life, Theta Delta Chi fraternity’s “Bro’s United” mentoring program, Kids Tech University, the Panhellenic Council at VT, and the VT ICAT Creativity and Innovation Day.

Check out the SAFE Facebook page for updates on news and events!

For more information, contact the SAFE director, Amy Azano at or 540-231-8889 or the VTCAR director, Angela Scarpa at or 540-231-8747.

Give a Gift

Contributions may be made to the VT Center for Autism Research SAFE Program and mailed to the address below.  Checks should be made payable to the “Virginia Tech Foundation Inc.” and include "VT Center for Autism Research-SAFE Program" in the memo section.

Virginia Tech
Office of Gift Accounting
University Development (0336)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

To make an immediate contribution using your credit card, you may use Virginia Tech's secure online form or contact the Office of Gift Accounting at 1-800-533-1144. If using the online form, type in the amount of your gift and click on the "Enter your own" (blue button to the right of the drop down menu for selecting which area will receive your gift).  Then type VT Center for Autism Research-SAFE Program and complete the rest of the form.

For more information or to learn about other ways to give, please contact Jenny Orzolek, Director of Development for the College of Science, by phone at 540-231-5643 or by email at