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Summer camp teaches children with autism how to ice skate

Ten-year-old T.J. Williamson is spending his summer learning how to ice skate at the Iceland Sports Complex in Lyndon.”I love ice skating,” T.J. said.TJ and his mother Rachel are taking part in the Frozen Feat Summer Camp for children with autism and their families. It’s a partnership between the Louisville Skating Academy and Families for Effective Autism Treatment or FEAT. “We are all about partnering with the community to provide inclusion and diversity to have these programs, especially summer camps,” the executive director for FEAT Melanie West said.West said for some families it’s the first time they have ever stepped on the ice.”We want to give them the opportunity to learn a new sport and endeavor in a warm, inclusive place,” said Mary Vaughn, Louisville Skating Academy’s Learn to Skate director.The camp was Vaughn’s idea. She said she knows the first-hand challenges facing children on the autism spectrum. Her 15-year-old son was diagnosed with autism when he was five.”It makes such a difference when you are working with organizations who understand the autism spectrum disorder journey,” Vaughn said.Vaughn says the program has been so successful it’s gained national attention, winning a U.S. Figure Skating community grant.”We are really excited the U.S. Figure Skating chose our program,” Vaughn said.As for Rachel and T.J., they’re excited the program has introduced them to a new activity they can do together.”It’s been 20 years probably since I’ve skated, so they offered a parent camp as well so I thought it would be fun to get out there and try to relearn how to do some of it too so that me and him after his can go ice skating together,” Rachel said.

Ten-year-old T.J. Williamson is spending his summer learning how to ice skate at the Iceland Sports Complex in Lyndon.

“I love ice skating,” T.J. said.

TJ and his mother Rachel are taking part in the Frozen Feat Summer Camp for children with autism and their families. It’s a partnership between the Louisville Skating Academy and Families for Effective Autism Treatment or FEAT.

“We are all about partnering with the community to provide inclusion and diversity to have these programs, especially summer camps,” the executive director for FEAT Melanie West said.

West said for some families it’s the first time they have ever stepped on the ice.

“We want to give them the opportunity to learn a new sport and endeavor in a warm, inclusive place,” said Mary Vaughn, Louisville Skating Academy’s Learn to Skate director.

The camp was Vaughn’s idea. She said she knows the first-hand challenges facing children on the autism spectrum. Her 15-year-old son was diagnosed with autism when he was five.

“It makes such a difference when you are working with organizations who understand the autism spectrum disorder journey,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn says the program has been so successful it’s gained national attention, winning a U.S. Figure Skating community grant.

“We are really excited the U.S. Figure Skating chose our program,” Vaughn said.

As for Rachel and T.J., they’re excited the program has introduced them to a new activity they can do together.

“It’s been 20 years probably since I’ve skated, so they offered a parent camp as well so I thought it would be fun to get out there and try to relearn how to do some of it too so that me and him after his can go ice skating together,” Rachel said.



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