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Civic Impact

Tennis program for autistic youth launches in Pittsburgh

A non-profit that makes tennis available to children with autism is launching in Pittsburgh this month at Shady Side Academy with its inaugural workshop being held on Sat., May 24.

The non-profit, ACEing Autism, is a national organization that uses its nationwide volunteer network to reach more than 500 children every week through its tennis programs. The program uses the sport of tennis as a means to enhance health and fitness, hand-eye coordination and motor development, as well as improve social skills for children with autism.

“Organized sports can provide important behavioral therapies for children with autism,” says Sara Longo, the program director for ACEing Autism in Pittsburgh. “There is a huge need for organized sports programs in the autistic community.”

As the program director, Longo will run the nine-week workshop at Shady Side Academy on Saturdays starting May 24. The first hour of each workshop is dedicated to children under 10 years old. The second hour is for children ages 11 to 20. No experience is required and all equipment is provided to the children participating. The cost for the workshop is $135 and special arrangements can be made for low income families looking to participate in the program.

Longo will run the program as a volunteer. She works fulltime as a Therapeutic Staff Support at the Watson Institute and has years of experience volunteering at local autism summer camps and outreach centers. She’s also an experienced tennis player.  

“I had the idea in my head for awhile that I wanted to open a tennis camp for children with autism,” says Longo. “When I was ready to act on it, I searched to see what was currently offered and found ACEing Autism. I immediately fell in love with their mission and reached out to the founder to see if I could open a branch in Pittsburgh.”

Once she gets her footing at Shady Side Academy, Longo hopes to expand the reach of the program.

“I am happy to make it my personal mission to grow ACEing Autism’s presence in Pittsburgh,” she says. “I hope to be able to expand to different schools in the future.”

For more information about ACEing Autism, visit http://www.aceingautism.com/.
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