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CFS Staff Among Awardees at 2020 USF Virtual Hispanic Heritage Awards Celebration

The University of South Florida Status of Latinos (SoL) Presidential Advisory Committee hosted the 2020 Virtual Hispanic Heritage Awards Celebration on Thursday, October 15th to recognize USF students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members who have significantly contributed to the Hispanic/Latino community in the past year.

Congratulation to CFS awardees Yazmin Castellano and Lourdes Quiñones. Both are members of the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities at USF (CARD-USF) team, and both have contributed significantly this year to the Hispanic/Latino communities.

Yazmin Castellano

Yazmin Castellano, M.A.

Yazmin Castellano, M.A. has been with CARD-USF since August of 2019. “In the short time Yazmin has worked at CARD-USF, she has been able to make great inroads to increasing how CARD-USF serves its Spanish speaking families,” said Dr. Beth Boone, CARD-USF Executive Director. “Yazmin has been able to reach out to the Hispanic community by translating information into Spanish for the CARD-USF website, brochures, and trainings on mental health, suicide, anxiety, challenging behaviors, sleep, feeding, and safety on the CARD-USF YouTube site."

Yazmin has also begun to raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and CARD-USF services by providing training to Hispanic families and professionals. She is working collaboratively with Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) as a board member of the Health Services Advisory Committee. She has participated in the Family Café Annual Conference as a presenter in English and Spanish. Yazmin is part of the Safety Kids Committee in Polk county where she has started to raise awareness about the importance of having and providing safety information in Spanish. She is also a part of the Diversity Committee at USF (CBCS). Shortly after starting at CARD-USF, Yazmin was able to reach out to Hispanic families via TV doing interviews with Telemundo Tampa, El Parlante Latino and Rumba (iHeart Media). She participates with other Spanish speaking CARD-USF colleagues and a volunteer Constituents' Board member to produce a weekly Facebook Live program called "La Hora del Cafecito". Yazmin is responsible for uploading the program to the CARD-USF YouTube where families and professionals can view currently 27 episodes.

Lourdes Quinones

Lourdes Quiñones, P.T., M.A.

Lourdes Quiñones, P.T., M.A. has also been with CARD-USF since August of 2019. Many of the families she works with are also participants in the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program, an international home-based, early intervention program that helps parents create experiences for their children that lay the foundation for success in school and later life. Lourdes was the assigned consultant for CARD-USF’s collaborative work with the HIPPY grant at USF. Lourdes’ degrees in physical therapy and special education have given the CARD-USF team a unique level of expertise in training health care and educational professionals. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Special Education at USF to add to how she can serve the autism community.

“One of the biggest contributions Lourdes has produced this past year is creating and directing a weekly Facebook Live program called "La Hora del Cafecito". She is assisted by other Spanish speaking CARD-USF colleagues and a volunteer Constituents' Board member,” said Dr. Boone. Through this program, the team brings information related to issues that affect various aspects of the lives of those living with Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as their families and community providers of services. The team has produced at least 27 episodes that can be viewed on the CARD-USF YouTube site.

Lourdes has also been ambitious in connecting CARD-USF constituents through the art community by offering a virtual “Arts in the Park” event through La Hora del Cafecito, where she coordinated four Zoom breakout rooms (i.e., virtual “tents”) with more than sixteen sessions hosted by various local community businesses and artists, offered in both English and Spanish. She hopes to make this an annual event and eventually offer it face-to-face.

Lourdes regards one of her personal goals is to disseminate information to the Hispanic community in regards to access to information related to detection and services in autism. Due to the lack of information available in Spanish, Hispanics are currently one of the minority groups under-represented and falling behind in regards to identification and treatment of ASD. Lourdes and another of her colleagues have been reaching out to media, agencies and businesses to get the word out about CARD-USF services. She has interviewed with Centro Newspaper/The Tribune and Univision Tampa and provided information to the Hispanic Services Council and the Tampa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to create more awareness.

Congratulation Yazmin and Lourdes on your well-deserved awards!