The Silcox Gym is filled with a chorus of laughter. Children of all ages run around with College of Charleston students, playing various games and making new friends. Anyone who walks into the gym would think it is just one big play date, but the benefits of these Saturday meetings go beyond laughter.
Move, Groove, & Get Active is a recreational program for children on the Autism spectrum. It was started nine years ago by Karen Smail, a Health and Human Performance professor here at the College, and has been helping improve local lives ever since.
The opening session featured a gym filled with soccer goals, scooter boards, balls and lots of happy participants. This year’s leaders of the program, seniors Jordan Collins and Griffin Reeder, are passionate and dedicated to the program and all of its benefits. They, along with volunteers, watched over the large group of kids and organized different activities to help get them active and improve their social skills. There were mostly individual activities to allow the kids one on one time with the volunteers, but big group activities like a parachute also made an appearance.
“It’s something you walk into not thinking you’re going to get anything out of it, but then you do,” Collins said. “It’s a dream being a leader of this program, it reaffirmed [that] I wanted to go into the health care and special needs field.”
The program is open to kids of all ages, but most of the children are in between five and 15 years old. The volunteers are generally science majors from the College, but anyone is welcome. Students who volunteer learn leadership and communication skills as well as gain the personal experience of working with and getting to know Autistic children within the Charleston community.
“I get to know the kids on a personal level, I know some of the families and seeing how much of an impact it has is really cool,” Reeder said. “It gives the parents a good break and the kids have fun so it’s super positive for everyone involved.”
Move, Groove, & Get Active transforms the boring gym into a learning playground that helps kids with Autism while helping students get involved and active on lazy Saturdays. Both Reeder and Collins encourage more students to join in on the afternoon fun. The next opportunity is this Saturday, Oct. 19. The rest of the fall sessions will occur from 2:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays in Silcox gym.