LACONIA – “Aceing Autism opens up the world to kids on the spectrum,” Patricia Hunt, Autism Center Coordinator, said of the six-week tennis program recently hosted by Advantage Kids at the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region in Laconia. This is the second ACEing Autism clinic here in New Hampshire, thanks to a partnership between locally-run Advantage Kids and the Los Angeles-based organization.
According to their national report, “ACEing Autism is a volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing our adaptive tennis program to the lives of children with autism. Connecting kids through tennis has been our aim for ten years and counting. Our goal is to provide an hour of fun, adaptive tennis to children and an hour break for parents, during which, they can watch their child develop into a tennis player! Our clinics aim to develop children’s motor skills, hand eye coordination, build confidence and improve their general socialization, all within a fun, controlled environment.”
The six-week clinic did just that for five children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Hayleigh Amadon, Kolby Dubisz, Christian Poissant, Jayson Tomlinson and Austin Crowder. Each of these children came, week after week, to learn the lifelong game of tennis.
“Aceing Autism means so much and shows me that my daughter Hayleigh is capable of doing anything she puts her mind to,” her mom, Kristin Amadon, said. “Her coach … has made a huge difference!”
The program was made possible by volunteers ranging from tennis pros like the program director Kamal Gosine to high schoolers like the Interlakes top-seeded tennis player, Alyssa Floyd, who said, “I’m excited to have this opportunity to help these kids discover a new hobby, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!”
Advantage Kids is a New Hampshire based nonprofit organization that is dedicated to bringing tennis, and the lifelong advantages that come with it, to kids – regardless of their socioeconomic status. As a National Junior Tennis and Learning organization, Advantage Kids offers free tennis and learning opportunities throughout the state. Currently, the organization is serving over 600 children in the Lakes Region, Concord, Manchester, Nashua and the Seacoast.
Founding Director Bob Ronstadt says, “What I love most is the light in their eyes when they see they cannot just hit, but control the ball.” He hopes to bring ACEing Autism clinics to all of the areas Advantage Kids serves, and to continue to watch the organization grow and thrive throughout the state.
“Community based programs are far less available to kids on the spectrum,” Patricia Hunt explains, though they “are essential to their social development.” But, she adds, because of Advantage Kids bringing ACEing Autism to Laconia, five local children can now, “believe that they have the same opportunities as other kids.”
More information about Advantage Kids can be found by liking and following them on social media.