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Game day for Kingsport kids with special needs

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Sports and activities that most kids take for granted can be rare for those with physical or other challenges. The YMCA at Meadowview in Kingsport takes extra steps to meet the need.

Rachel Killen's two sons, Ethan and Austin, got introduced to hockey Saturday. Ethan has autism and has been involved in the Kingsport YMCA’s special needs program for six years.

"Ethan is not one that likes to participate,” Killen said. “He likes to do his own thing, and Julie and everyone do everything they can to get him involved."

Special Needs Director Julie Scott runs the Go A.P.E. program, which stands for Adaptive Physical Exercise. Each month, she tries to find different activities for the kids.

"We're working on just learning some hockey skills and playing around,” Scott said. “It's just to get them active and socializing."

Killen said it is hard to find places where her son can participate.

"Going to a typical sports game or a team is definitely not an option,” Killen said. “There is no sport he can do outside of this."

She added that it has been fun to watch Ethan start coming out of his shell.

"It's just been great to see him grow because, with every one, he's getting a little bit more willing to try something new," Killen said.

"It is really a really neat thing to watch those kids get to do some of those things, and to watch the parents watch their kid get to do some of these things," Scott said.

The next Go A.P.E. event is on March 4. If you'd like more information, you can visit the Kingsport YMCA website.

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