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S.N.A.P Participant

For more than 50 years, April has been nationally recognized as Autism Awareness Month. However, that would change in 2021, when the month was renamed Autism Acceptance Month. According to Christopher Banks, president and CEO of The Autism Society of America, "Awareness is knowing that somebody has autism,". "Acceptance is when you include (a person with autism) in your activities. Help (them) to develop in that community and get that sense of connection to other people."

Autism, often known as autism spectrum disorder, is a term used to describe a group of illnesses that affect how the brain develops in areas such as social interaction, communication, and cognitive capacity. Autism has a number of effects on people, including verbal and nonverbal communication, social interactions, and leisure and recreational activities. In the United States, it affects about one in every 44 children. There is presently no cure for autism, although early intervention and therapy can significantly improve, and in some cases completely eliminate, the many symptoms associated with autism.

At the Y, we provide a number of programs and services to assist families with children who have impairments or special needs. One of these programs, S.N.A.P. (Special Needs Aquatic PE) is a collaboration between the Sacramento Central YMCA and the Sacramento City Unified School District's Adaptive P.E. program. This program began in 2001 and has continued to this day. The program emphasizes on being self-sufficient and comfortable in the water, whether it is by walking, standing, or submerging. Participants in the program range in age from Kindergarten to 12th grade. 5 to 25 children participate each week for 42 weeks of classes, depending on the school class size. During the school year, S.N.A.P takes place at the Sacramento Central YMCA pool every Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Each school is provided transportation by the Sacramento Unified School District for four 1-hour sessions.

This is the only opportunity for many of the youngsters in the program to participate in a swimming activity. The lack of transportation and accessibility of warm water pools outside of the SNAP program is a major hindrance to these children swimming at other times of the year.

The YMCA is dedicated to providing everyone with the attention and environment they need to grow. We recognize that understanding the aspects of inclusion is critical to our goal at the YMCA, and that commitment has contributed to the development of a community that embraces people from all walks of life.