Earlier this summer we shared (here) that Randy Horowitz, NSSA’s Associate Executive Director of Program Development, began a school-based running club here at NSSA. The weekly practices are broken into two groups: The Junior Runners (the younger students in classroms 1 & 2) and Senior Runners from classrooms 3 & 4.
The club meets on Friday mornings and Randy and Barell parent Jennifer Prince spend 30 minutes leading students through warm-up exercises…
an individual short run…
a couple laps around the playground track with a teacher or running partner….
…and finishing up with a brief cool-down and a round of applause for their efforts.
The purpose of the running club this summer is to assess student’s skills, motivation and interest in running. Randy anticipates that by summer’s end they will have identified a handful of students who could be interested in running longer distances (perhaps a 5k, Jack’s Run, Blazing Trails for Autism 4 mile run, etc.). These students will be paired with staff and parents who can coach them towards this goal.
Randy shared why participating in organized runs or races could be a benefit for our students: “In addition to decreasing problem behavior and increasing health and fitness, among the most important benefits of exercise for individuals with autism, are the social implications of participating in activities with typically developing age matched peers, and relatives (e.g., siblings and parents).”
If you want to read the story of a family who helped their two sons with autism by running together as a family, read Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism by Robyn K. Schneider. Ms. Schneider, the boys’ mother, shows how skill building, effective supports, developing community partnerships and selecting activities based on shared interest, can promote independence and community integration for individuals with autism.
And there’s certainly no denying the joy on these faces!
Thanks, Randy, for starting this important exercise club for our students!