SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University women's tennis team, partnered with Brown University, volunteers weekly at ACEing Autism in East Providence, an organization focused on teaching children with autism the magic of tennis.
ACEing Autism was founded in the summer of 2008 by Richard Spurling and Dr. Shafali Jeste in Boston, MA., as a family run organization with the invaluable efforts of its volunteers and supporters. ACEing Autism now has sites in Los Angeles, New York, Fort Lauderdale, Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Diego, New Orleans, Nashville and Indianapolis. The expansion continues, as the organization is just beginning to meet the needs of the thousands of children with autism across the country.
The success lies in the organization's commitment to tailoring the program to the needs of each individual child with autism. ACEing Autism currently services more than 500 children with autism across 30 locations nationwide.
The team, joined by student-athletes from Brown University, help teach tennis to children ages 11 to 16 years old at various points on the autism spectrum.
"In the time that we've been helping, we are seeing great progress in the kids from a tennis standpoint," said head coach Barbara Cilli. "The director of the program has told us that the children look forward to coming to the clinic and come away with having had a lot of fun.
Division I student-athletes have their plates full, from schoolwork to athletics, but Cilli believes volunteering at the clinic helps her players cope with the many demands.
"With all my players have on their plates between schoolwork and tennis, when they volunteer at a clinic, they come away feeling happier, lighter and less burdened by all they have to do for school," said Cilli.
"The children come in and really try hard," said Cilli. "When they connect with a ball and it goes over the net, they are so excited and it's contagious. All things considered, I think the ACEing Autism clinic is good for us all."
To visit AECing Autism's website head to aceingautism.org.