Shrewsbury police hold Autism Awareness Touch-a-Truck event


Shrewsbury police hold Autism Awareness Touch-a-Truck event
Jack and Zoey smile from inside one of the trucks on display during the Autism Awareness Touch-a-Truck event. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – From police cars to tractor trailers, the Shrewsbury Police Department invited the community to a sensory-friendly touch-a-truck event yesterday. 

The first Autism Awareness Touch-a-Truck was held in the parking lot of the UMass Chan Medical School campus in Shrewsbury. 

“This is our first Shrewsbury event of this size of a touch-a-truck, and it’s unbelievable,” said Shrewsbury Officer Justin Walker. 

According to Walker, there was a committee that was also made up of police from Shrewsbury, Worcester, UMass and State Police and the Special Olympics that coordinated the polar plunge in Worcester earlier this spring. 

When the committee debriefed after the event, Walker said the committee decided to hold another event. 

“We decided on a touch-a-truck event, and then we decided to bring that element of autism into it for Autism Awareness Month,” Walker said. “I feel like that community sometimes gets forgotten about in a way. I think that everyone you talk to — autism definitely touches everyone and it’s widespread, but I think a lot of people forget about that.”

Since the event was sensory-friendly, the emergency vehicles’ lights and sirens weren’t used. 

In addition to vehicles from the Shrewsbury town and emergency departments, there were numerous vehicles from other departments in the region along with tow and landscaping companies, a Worcester Regional Transit Authority bus, tractor trailers and even a mounted patrol. 

“We tried to include everyone. People at the last minute were like, ‘Hey, I want to get involved,’ and we did,” Walker said.

Walker hopes the touch-a-truck event will continue to happen on a yearly basis.

“It’s hopefully going to be bigger and bigger every year,” said Walker. 

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