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Night for Autism, African Diaspora Night Coming to UCCU Center on Saturday

Clark Clifford - UVU Athletics

OREM — Saturday night is sure to bring another roaring crowd to the UCCU Center. The UVU men’s basketball team, in conjunction with the Melissa Nellesen Center for Autism and UVU’s African Diaspora Initiative, will be hosting “Night for Autism” and “African Diaspora Night”.

“We are really excited about what we have going on Saturday,” UVU head coach Mark Pope said. “It’s two-fold. With our multicultural services center, we’re doing African Diaspora Night, which is really exciting for us to reach out to this entire community in Utah and celebrate the accomplishments and achievements and the place that the African American community has at UVU and in our state.

We’re also making a big point of acknowledging autism. We have an incredible partnership with the study and the care of autistic children here at UVU with the Nellesen Center for Autism, which is doing groundbreaking work in raising, caring, and educating autistic children. We’re excited to celebrate that and bring some recognition to that, also. It’s going to be a great night.”

According to the website for the Melissa Nellesen Center for Autism, the mission statement says, “The Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism at UVU is where the university and the community come together for education and support related to autism spectrum disorder.”

The purpose is to give families the opportunity to have a free night out in an autism friendly environment. Because individuals with autism frequently get overwhelmed by audio and visual effects, the Presidential South Suite at the UCCU Center will be turned into an autism friendly getaway. There will be two sections, featuring low lighting and comfortable seating in the smaller section. Noise cancelling headphones will also be available for all in attendance with autism. 

After the game finishes, UVU players will be signing autographs and visiting with the families as a way to show their appreciation for the support they receive.

The second promotion that is going on Saturday night is “African Diaspora Night”. This promotion is designed to celebrate and recognize Black History Month. It is a night to invite all with black history and heritage to come and enjoy a night of basketball and fun. Activities such as cultural performances, special t-shirts boasting an African design, a VIP dinner that will host many dignitaries in the state, including Rev. France Davis. A veteran of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.s civil rights campaigns, Davis was also a participant in the historic Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.

According to its website, the African Diaspora Initiative at UVU says this: “Through collaboration across campus, the initiative’s purpose is to ensure student retention and completion through partnerships that allow for our African/Black students to receive mentorship opportunities from professionals in the community and/or staff and faculty at UVU, further cultural validation through intentional programming, and seek opportunities for students to engage in African Diaspora communities within our serving region or across the nation.”

Those coming for the promotions will also get to see the UVU men’s basketball team in action. The Wolverines host UMKC, looking for their 19th win of the season and improving to 8-4 in WAC play. UVU is coming off an impressive 103-71 win over Chicago State on Thursday. Jake Toolson had a game-high 25 points and hit six 3-pointers. Richard Harward dominated the paint with a career-high 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. The 103 points is the highest total this season in a game by the Wolverines.

UMKC is coming off a 69-64 loss at Seattle on Thursday night. The ‘Roos led the majority of the game but couldn’t hang on late. UMKC is 10-17 overall and 5-7 in the WAC. UVU won the first meeting between the two teams, 74-67, back on Jan. 24 in Kansas City. 

Tip-off is at 7 p.m. MT and you can listen to it on ESPN 960AM. You can also stream the game on the WAC Digital Network or on the GoUVU YouTube channel. 

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