Daily exercise is important for all children – but it’s especially critical for children and youth with autism. That’s why students at The Birchtree Center’s school in Newington will once again participate in “Active and Aware: A Fitness Challenge for Autism Awareness Month” this April. The nonprofit’s special educational day school serves students with autism from 22 public school districts in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.
“When we make exercise fun and rewarding for students with autism, their health improves – and they’re better prepared for learning,” Executive Director Sandra Pierce-Jordan said. Every school day this April, Birchtree’s students will try a different fitness activity. Students may attempt a yoga pose one day and do laps on a scooter board the next. Activities are designed to be enjoyable and adaptable to each student’s needs.
The exercise program is part of an organization-wide effort to commemorate Autism Awareness Month with fun, healthy and accessible activities. Birchtree’s staff, families, board members and volunteers will also be pursing health and fitness goals this April. Event sponsors include Kennebunk Savings, People’s United Bank, and Melanie Bisson of Keller Williams Coastal Realty. Members of the public can show their support by joining the challenge or making a donation online at birchtreecenter.org/challenge.
The organization will also host an admission-free workshop on April 12 from 5:30-7 p.m. titled “Strategies for Meeting Your Students’ Sensory Needs.” Fundraising events open to the public will include fitness classes at Mission Portsmouth on April 1, a barre exercise class at LA Beatz Dance Studio in Newington on April 8, a book fair at Barnes & Noble in Newington on April 8, and a “Noche Mexicana” fundraiser at Margaritas in Dover on April 19. Details and registration information are at birchtreecenter.org.