Philadelphia’s Autism Cares Foundation Gears Up for Race for Resources
Every Wednesday, when 13-year-old Jack Albeser tosses around a weighted ball in a local gym, he gets way more than just a usual workout at the Fit-n-Focus program hosted by the nonprofit Autism Cares Foundation.
The 8th grader feels invigorated, connected to a tight-knit community, and is making new friends. It all adds up to a life-changing opportunity for him and his family.
Jack and his mom Chrissie Albrecht, who works as a caregiver for seniors, head from their home in Philadelphia each week to No Bull Fitness in Huntingdon Valley, PA., to stretch his body and to further develop social skills.
“The best part is that I feel strong after working out,” Jack said proudly. “I love Coach Karl, he is so nice to all of us. I really recommend the class.”
Without Autism Cares Foundation (ACF), Jack, who was diagnosed with autism at age three would have few options to keep him moving and connected.
But now that he and his family are involved in ACF he also enjoys bounce parties, trampoline outings and other memorable events with his special needs peers, and he looks forward to every new opportunity.ACF has offered fitness classes at various locations for the past decade, and currently there are 30 participants in this program.
Fit-n-Focus aims to build confidence, social skills and better health practices for teens and adults with special needs who are age 13 and over.
Coach Karl Safran and trainer Nicole London start each Fit-n-Focus class by getting the participants warmed up with some outdoor cardio in front of the gym.
Then there is a rotating workout, similar to circuit training, inside with various obstacles and exercises, including push-up, ball slams, ladder drills, step-ups, rowing machines and more. There are weighted balls, cones, benches, hoops, and mats. The class ends with a cool down, some core work, a big round of applause and a team photo. The entire workout is peppered with encouragement.
“My son’s focus and attention aren’t there, so thanks to ACF he is welcome to be himself,” Jack’s mom explained. “There is no pressure for him to participate if he needs a break; most important, there is no judgment.”
Encouraging local children and adults with special needs to keep their bodies and minds healthy has always been at the forefront of the nonprofit Autism Cares Foundation and this has never been more important for local families.
At No Bull Fitness, Safran and his trainers provide the special needs participants with “a safe, effective and unique one-hour workout each week, with the personal attention” that each of us needs.
Safran is inspired by the perseverance of the ACF participants and how they overcome their struggles, which is a shining example of why each of us needs to be grateful for our strengths and not complain about our weaknesses. “We are all better being surrounded by others because it helps keep each of us motivated,” he said.
Many of the participants of the weekly workouts at No Bull Fitness are also gearing up for the ACF Race for Resources being held on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Several thousand participants are gearing up to gather at Bucks County Community College to run, walk, connect, learn, and bond over the ability to promote acceptance and love for all children, teens, and adults, especially our loved ones with autism and other special needs.The Race for Resources is one of ACF’s major fundraisers that allows ACF to serve more than 5,000 people through 200 FREE events held annually. This is done with the help of dedicated volunteers, and donations and sponsorships from local individuals, businesses and corporations.
ACF Co-Founder and CEO Linda Kuepper says the nonprofit always strives to do its best for all of its special friends. “Going forward we need to continue on the path to provide these vital events and activities for our loved ones of all ages,” she said.
The ACF Race for Resources features something for everyone – a certified racecourse for the 5K and 10K as well as a 1-mile Family Walk. For further information please go to Race for Resources.org.
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