Everyday Hero: Family starts soccer camp for children with autism 04

Dexter Whiting, 6, throws his hands in the air as he excitedly explains something to volunteer Katie Meads, 16, during Moving Mountains Soccer Camp on Thursday, June 8, 2017 at the playing fields near Utah Valley University in Orem. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

Anyone who starts a new business or creates a new project wants it to do well and is happy when it does. However, there are also obstacles that can be created when a business or project becomes very successful and most often that obstacle is finding people to support the growth.

That is the case this year with the Moving Mountains Soccer Camp being held at Utah Valley University on Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29.

Moving Mountains began in 2016 at Utah Valley University with approximately 40 participants and 100 volunteers. It was created through the need of the Wunder family to find a place where their two sons with autism could enjoy the game of soccer like their older sister, in a safe and inclusive environment. Because of the popularity of this program, it has continued to grow in participants to 150 this year. Unfortunately, the number of volunteers has not followed the same growth pattern and there is a large need to fill this gap to ensure each child has the high quality of experience that they have learned to expect from previous years and word of mouth.

The commitment for volunteers is minimal, but the rewards are high. According to the website, rewards include “more wear and tear on your shoes, a healthier thirst for water, protests from your knees, calloused hands from all of the clapping, a disturbingly large amounts of smiles, the eternal gratitude of an awesome child (and their families), memories to last a lifetime and a t-shirt.”

The minimal commitment includes attending a mandatory training where you will learn more about working with kids with autism and specifically the child who will be assigned to you, with two training dates available to choose from, and attending the actual camp. The camps are only one hour each day, but volunteers will be there from 9 to 11:30 a.m. both days. There are no prerequisites to know about autism or soccer to become a volunteer.

This is a great chance for church groups, school sports teams, business teams, families or anyone from the community to get together to support a very important cause in a short amount of time. To register as a volunteer, go to https://movingmountainssoccer.weebly.com/volunteer.html.

According to an article published in 2014 in Psychology Today, “5 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer,” the benefits of volunteering include the fact that volunteers live longer and are healthier, it establishes strong relationships, is good for your career, is good for society and gives you a sense of purpose. If you have never volunteered for a cause, this is a good place to start because it requires so little and gives back so much.

I would also like to take this opportunity to give a plug to the upcoming 8th Annual Summer Carnival presented by the Autism Resources of Utah County Council. This is another event that continues to grow from year to year and is created for individuals with autism and their families to enjoy a fun day of bounce houses, wagon rides, balloon animals, food, snow cones and more in a safe autism friendly environment. There is no charge for this event that will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 22 at the Utah Autism Academy located at 1875 S. Geneva Road in Orem. More information can be found at http://www.ARUCC.org.

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