PHOTO: NYFAC will soon add a 3,800 square-foot Center for Physical Achievement fitness facility to its Howard Beach building. File Photo
By Forum Staff
In recognition of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, Borough President Melinda Katz last week announced a $1 million allocation of her Fiscal Year 2017 discretionary capital funds toward the construction of a new, 3,800 square-foot “Center for Physical Achievement” gymnasium and fitness space at the New York Families for Autistic Children center in Howard Beach.
The allocation will help NYFAC complete its $2 million project to build the new addition, which will include specialized exercise equipment modified for people with special needs. The new space will also allow an expanded menu of recreational services and programs, including basketball, volleyball, tennis, kickball, aerobics, creative movement, yoga and wiffle ball. Although autistic children have a difficult time socializing in an organized play environment, recreational programs supervised by counselors using appropriate techniques can help them to develop better and live healthy lifestyles.
“All of our families – including those who have children with an autism spectrum disorder – should get the investment of resources and facilities to help reach their full potential,” said Katz. “If it’s good for families, it’s good for Queens.”
“It’s an absolute blessing that NYFAC and our families have the support of Borough President Katz to assist and enable the individuals we serve and give them the ability to learn, develop and grow to maximize their potential,” said NYFAC President and CEO Andrew Baumann. “The Center for Physical Achievement will be a place where children, teens and adults with ASDs can better learn to take care of their bodies as well as their minds. This will be the first center of its kind in Queens, one that will work on both the mind and body with equipment and personnel to support the entire family.”
The allocation comes on top of Borough President Katz’s previous $305,000 allocation over the past two fiscal years toward Quality Services for the Autism Community for its after-school programs and the purchase of five specialized transport vans.
“Autism Awareness Day helps to shed light on the need for person-centered services and supports for children and adults with autism and their families,” said QSAC CEO and Executive Director Maffei. “With the support of Borough President Katz, QSAC has been able to enhance its programs to best meet the needs of the thousands of families we touch in Queens and throughout the City. The Borough President has been a tireless advocate for the rights of the families we support — we are grateful for her commitment and proudly join her and the residents of Queens in commemorating this important day.”
World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated annually on April 2 in accordance with a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Autism organizations around the world mark the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. NYFAC was founded in 1998.