In past blogs, I discussed the importance of intense physical activity for children with autism and special needs. That’s why I was excited to read about a study with the Achilles International and Cigna Foundation to evaluate how running can help children with autism. Although it is in its early stages, it is hoped that the research will yield insights into how physical activity can improve certain symptoms of ASD.
Achilles International, founded in 1983, is a group that allows people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletic events. Initially serving adults with physical disabilities, today Achilles Kids offers running, walking and rolling programs for children with autism and cognitive disabilities.
The Achilles Kids: Races and Workouts program provides training activities that integrate free-play, games, and nutritious snacks to make the experience fun. In New York, children with disabilities are given the opportunity to compete alongside able-bodied children in the Road Runners Club’s Pee Wee races.
I was also fascinated to read about Achilles Kids: Run to Learn program, which was developed in 1995 by Achilles International. The program consists of a series of physical and educational activities that integrate educational challenges and games with running, walking, rolling, or other forms of movement to encourage and motivate children to participate in regular physical activity.
It is based on a real 26.2 mile marathon, but done virtually. In a year-long gym activity, children do a number of laps each week. The laps are counted and converted into miles, and then charted as a 26.2 mile route on a map of their town. While the children are tackling the long-term accomplishment of completing the marathon, they are also realizing short-term achievements based on meeting weekly goals. In addition, it also incorporated math, English, science and nutrition.
Achilles Kids: Run to Learn is currently in over 150 schools in the U.S. with approximately 3,500 kids participating. I am requesting more information about the program. Perhaps we could establish a Run To Learn at the BNI.
To request more information about the Learn to Run program or find a Achilles International program near you, visit Achilles International‘s website or call 212-354-0300 x305.
Achilles Internationals programs are a great tool for breaking down barriers and raising awareness.