Senior Jasmine Roberts has brought ACEing Autism to the Poly tennis courts. This seven week program started on September 19, and has seven sessions every subsequent Saturday from nine to eleven AM, at the Poly Billy Jean King Tennis Courts. ACEing Autism is a volunteer-based program that teaches kids with autism how to play tennis. It is designed to give the kids social interaction and physical stimulation. The organization was established in Massachusetts in 2008 by Richard Spurling, whom Roberts worked with last summer. It has since been brought to the West Coast and has locations in Encino Park, Westwood, and Burbank. Each session consists of a warm-up, skills training, drills, and closing games. A team of three volunteers is assigned to each participant and every volunteer has been trained to keep the activity fun and engaging. Roberts originally proposed ACEing Autism for the International Ambassadors program but was turned down. Despite this, she decided to continue with the project, and last summer visited hospitals, autism centers, and physical therapy centers throughout Long Beach and Torrance. At each establishment, she spoke to administrators and posted flyers to spread the word. Over the summer, she gathered around forty volunteers for the Poly program. “There aren’t many programs like this, so it is really fun for the kids, and more-so for the the parents. They are really happy to see their kids having fun. Last Saturday, one of our participants said for the first time in their life that they had fun,” said Roberts. Roberts is now in the process of bringing more attention to ACEing Autism. She is working to get press releases published in the LA Times and Press Telegram, and she has been in contact with the Long Beach Mayor’s Office. While Mayor Robert Garcia was not able to make it to the October 3 session, he did give this statement to Roberts: “I commend the efforts of the Poly High ACEing Autism tennis volunteers…This community volunteer program addresses the lack of quality recreational programs to children with Autism, it’s a perfect match to use tennis as a means to enhance kid’s health and fitness while simply having fun with other kids.” ACEing Autism has proved to be quite the success. CBS News attended the October 3 session and a has had a news segment, about Roberts and the program that was shown that night. In the news segment it was announced that the Poly chapter of ACEing Autism will hold more sessions in January.
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