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Rotarians learn about Summer Autism Academy

L to R: Gregg and DoddsTwo leaders with the Summer Autism Academy were the featured speakers at the Bellefontaine Rotary Club meeting Monday afternoon.

Bellefontaine teachers Tracy Gregg and Christi Dodds explained how the academy has impacted local youth.

For more than a decade, the Autism Workgroup of Logan County has been assisting autistic Logan County kids with their transition from school year to school year.

The group is comprised of teachers, parents, and community members who raise funds to operate the Summer Academy. The group also raises funds for families who are touched by autism.

In 2016, Gregg and Dodds were named Summer Academy Coordinators. They have stressed academics and community work. They also have maintained the goal of the academy, which is to keep these children in a set routine to help them transition back to school in August.

The Summer Academy runs for seven weeks from June 5th to July 26th at Bellefontaine Elementary School. The academy is in session on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8:30 am to 1 pm.

Kids ages five to 15 with autism or severe emotional disturbance are referred to the academy by their teachers from Bellefontaine, Benjamin Logan, Indian Lake, or Riverside.

Teachers, as well as parents, set out goals for each student to try and reach during the academy. The students will spend the first couple of hours working on academics and then spend the second half of the day doing activities in the community. Those activities include bowling, swimming, cooking, going to restaurants, parks, and the fair.

Roughly 15 to 20 kids attend the academy each year.

For attendees, their positive social behaviors are increased.

Caregivers experience less stress, which strengthens family bonds and reduces the risk for child abuse, neglect, and dependency.

In order to operate the academy, it cost about $1,200 per kid. Each home district provides $200 per student that attends the Summer Academy. The rest of the cost is raised through fundraisers.

The Summer Academy is administered on behalf of the Logan County Autism Workgroup. You can contact Tracy Gregg at gregg@bcs-k12.org or Christi Dodds at dodds@bcs-k12.org.

The Bellefontaine Rotary Club meets every Monday at noon at the Hilliker Y.

Next week's meeting will be a member spotlight on Rotarians of the Week.

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