Cathy Liebowitz '15
Student Director of CCESP Nicaragua
Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Plainfield, NHRead the full interview
ASPIRE is dedicated to providing resources and support for individuals on the autism spectrum. We are committed to advocating for autism research, to increasing public awareness, and to providing services within the Upper Valley for children with autism and their families. It is our goal to improve the lives of those affected by autism and to give these special people a reason to hope... to dream... to aspire. There are three weekly activities, playgroup, swim group, and STEPS, a social program for older kids on the spectrum.
Playgroup: Saturdays, 12:30PM-3:30PM (travel time included)
Playgroup is ASPIRE's oldest and largest program. We travel to the Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School, where we lead children with autism through a number of fun and engaging activities. This includes story time, art project, snack time, and of course, lots of free play time! Each student volunteer is responsible for playing and interacting with one child, and helps this child through the art project and other tasks. Playgroup is fun for kids and volunteers alike, and provides a unique opportunity for children with autism to develop social and communication skills. We also typically include a trip to the Montshire Museum of Science each term!
Swim Group: Fridays, 4:00PM-6:00PM (travel time included)
ASPIRE's swim group was created in 2010 with the goal to provide autistic children with a fun, new outlet for their energy, while also gaining experience with swimming and social interaction. Every Friday at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, volunteers work one-on-one with autistic children to learn swimming skills and to have fun. A swim instructor helps kids with various skills, such as kicking and blowing bubbles, and rotates between the kids on a weekly basis. The UVAC facility also includes a lazy river and water slide, which the volunteers love almost as much as the kids! Since swim group was created all of the children have made amazing progress thanks to help of our volunteers, and we look forward to seeing swim group continue to thrive!
Note: There is no required swim test to volunteer for ASPIRE's swim group! Even the deepest part of the pool is shallow enough that all volunteers can easily stand on the bottom.
STEPS: Saturdays, 1:00PM-2:45PM
First conceived in 2011, STEPS is ASPIRE's newest group and is targeted towards higher-function and slightly older children on the autism spectrum. STEPS is modeled after social thinking groups, which are more focused and structured than the playgroup setup, but still allows the kids (and volunteers!) to have a lot of fun. The theme for each day is based on a specific skill that the kids will work on. Since these children are a bit older, field trips (lunch or gelato) and higher-level activities (bake or play organized sports) are often included. STEPS typically meets in Brace Commons in the East Wheelock cluster, and also joins the with playgroup once a term for the trip to the Montshire Museum of Science!
- Blitz ASPIRE
- Call 603-646-3350
- Stop by the Tucker Foundation, South Fairbanks Hall
Last Updated: 4/23/14