YMCA, SD Autism Society partner for gymnastics events


Children with autism face social, behavioral and communication challenges, so they typically have fewer recreational opportunities. That’s why Encinitas’ Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA and San Diego Autism Society have joined forces for a solution.

The organizations are offering Family Open Gymnastics Play, seven upcoming days that autistic children and their families can enjoy at the Ecke Y Gymnastics Center in Carlsbad, a satellite location.

“Because everyone in attendance understands autism, the usual anxieties families face in public settings are gone,” said Shirley Fett, immediate past president for Autism Society San Diego, in a news release. “Families can relax and enjoy the company of their peers while their children are playing together.”

The special events, which will take place from 4-6 p.m. March 28, April 25, May 30, June 27, July 25, Aug. 22 and Sept. 26 at the gymnastics center, are open to families registered with the Autism Society San Diego. There is no charge for these families.

The first event was held in February to great acclaim, said Emily Figueiredo, YMCA director of financial developments and events.

Volunteers help the kids tumble, bounce on trampolines, swing on ropes, jump into a foam pit and more.

“It’s basically an open gym night … The foam pit is especially popular,” Figueiredo said.

Fett said the experience “provides fantastic and much-needed sensory input for the kids.”

The Gymnastics Center expanded last fall with a new 9,000-square-foot “tumble zone,” allowing for more gatherings at the complex, Figueiredo said.

Various county YMCA branches have partnered with the Autism Society San Diego over the years for various programs, with the Ecke YMCA being another example.

The Gymnastics Center is at 6100 Avenida Encinas, Suite B, in Carlsbad.

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