Originally, the Piece Of the Puzzle Alliance (POP). The idea for this came from Boneyard Robotics wanting teams to come together to help build a better future for all students. Learn more about our efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive FIRST community at thepopalliance.org.
Why Piece Of the Puzzle? The puzzle piece has become an international symbol for autism and is embraced by many in the autism community, including the autism organization that Boneyard partners with locally. Boneyard realized several years ago that there were several students on the team who happened to be on the autism spectrum. They were key pieces of the team and helped make the team better. At the same time, being on the team helped them as well.
That realization was a powerful moment – one where the Boneyard had found its true purpose, and the way they could have the largest impact on their community and others.
After that first year, it became a part of Boneyard’s mission to actively seek to help include these underserved students. But, why stop with Boneyard? There are neurodiverse students everywhere (1 in 59 with Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even more when considering other neurological disorders). By working together with teams in other communities, they could have an impact on these students everywhere.
When FIRST teams work together, they form an alliance. Each team that joins would become a piece of the puzzle and, working together and learning from each other, we can build a better world where students, through FIRST, use their talents and grow, in STEM fields and in life.
We believe that sensitivity is a part of inclusion. During its efforts to grow the alliance, Boneyard became aware that some in the international autism community are adverse to the puzzle piece as a symbol for autism. Although we had already started growing the alliance and building its graphics and its brand, we felt it was important to make a change so that all would feel welcome.
When looking for a new name, we only had to look at the reason we were doing this – to share the power of our purpose and equip others to do the same.
We hope you will consider joining the Power Of Purpose Alliance. Here, we will encourage teams to join, share resources, and work together to make a difference in our own communities to welcome, empower, and inspire these underserved students for the future.