Today, we’re heading to Burlingame, CA, to check in with Gianna Carlevaris and Rachel Leonard. “It was great to see everything that goes into it,” Rachel, the new Program Director, mentioned. “Even with a few bumps in the road, it was amazing to see volunteers go the extra mile.”
Gianna continued, “our new volunteer Oliver, for example, comes in at 9:30 am, ready to help and stays late to hit with some of our players.”
In addition, both Rachel and Gianna have noticed improvements in their athletes. “Oliver, one of our youngest players, has been able to stay on the court without his mom sometimes, for instance, which he couldn’t do before. Ken is starting conversations and socializing, just like Nicholas, who comes up to me and says how I’m his best friend,” Gianna said, laughing.
Another example of success is seeing several athletes bond, become friends and sing together at the beginning of each clinic. “Yacob and Darshan love music, and they do this singing,” Gianna, a junior at St Ignatius HS, told us, smiling. “So they became friends.”
Rachel, who works at UCSF to pursue research, chimed in as I asked if there was anything else they wanted to share. “It’s been fun to see our participants look up to their volunteer buddy.” For Gianna, she wanted to share why she loves being a Program Director for ACEing Autism. “I love it, pairing the kids, communicating with the parents and the kids when they enter the courts, it’s so much fun!”
As they finish their session next week, they are already excited to start planning their next one. Stay tuned for more information on their Fall session! In the meantime, to find a program near you: https://aceingautism.org/locations/