Summer is about getting outside and being active! Check out a report from one of our Local Impact grantees, Wesley Family Services in Pittsburgh, PA. Our grant helps pay for scholarships for all attendees with autism to participate in a program called Get Moving! Running, Walking, and Hiking for Wellness. Participants and their family members ran on a park trail with the following three objectives: Open a new branch of services aimed at promoting health and wellness for individuals with a variety of diagnoses; increase physical activity of the participants; and increase integration into the community by learning the “rules of the trail” and sharing the space with others.

One success was that parents reported increased physical activity outside of the scheduled group. Some families came to the trail on other days to walk/run with their children. It seemed that participation in this program gave parents the confidence to share physical activity with their children and see it as an accessible activity for them to engage in as a family. One participant really shined in this program. His running skills were apparent from day one, and he continued to run farther and further with volunteer support as the weeks went on. He asked his mom to buy “speed shoes” and was incredibly motivated to participate. He was especially excited on the weeks that he finished in “first place” and would cheer on everyone as they crossed the finish line. This provided an excellent lesson in sportsmanship and socialization for this participant. His mother was very excited to see him succeed in this program, and she mentioned that “he loved it so much!” and she hopes the program will continue in the future.

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