Why Kids with Autism Need an Opportunity to Play on the Field

Guests: Raegan Schurr and Desiree Cole | Season 10, Ep. 423

“There’s something about these kids just getting on the field or court because it’s their turn to try.” – Raegan Shurr

Research shows that early intervention for kids with autism spectrum disorder can significantly improve their quality of life as they grow older. In today’s episode, Dr. Michelle Robin invites Raegan Schurr to share how the YMCA of Greater Kansas City has built something called the Challenger Program that helps these kids fulfill some of those critical early intervention needs through sports and teamwork. Raegan explains why they have cultivated an environment that helps parents let their guard down and watch their kids explore and grow by learning about patience, why it’s important to show up on time, how to be a good teammate, and so much more. With over 300 volunteers across Kansas City who are giving their time to impact these kids’ lives, the Challenger Program has multiple benefits for early intervention learning opportunities. At the end of the show, Raegan shares a heartfelt story about a boy who was in the Challenger Program many years ago, and why he decided to return when he was older to pay that kindness forward.

About Today’s Guest and Co-Host:

Raegan Schurr is the Senior Director of Adaptive Programs for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. Having been with the YMCA movement for 29 years, her greatest love has been working with individuals with disabilities and the many volunteers through the Challenger Program. She also holds certification for faculty trainer for YUSA ‘s Strengthening Inclusion: Engaging Communities of Diverse Abilities and is a founding member of the Access and Ability Network. When not on the field or court with Challenger, you will find her on a golf course or enjoying music by her firepit with friends.

Desiree Cole is the Content Director and Brand Manager at Small Changes Big Shifts. She creates, writes, and manages the voice and content for the brand. She has loved all things wellness since she was introduced to the lifestyle in college, where she learned to cook more plant-based food and care for the whole body in holistic ways. She began her journalism career in Chicago and New York City, where she worked in Manhattan as an editor for news agencies, magazines, and book publishing. She’s part of the Small Changes Big Shifts team because she believes words are powerful messengers to the spirit, heart, and mind. Desiree was born and raised in Kansas City and believes there’s no place like it. Her husband (Zach), son (Ollie), and two golden retrievers (Linus and Lucy) live in a loud and happy house with its eight paws and a very joyful little boy who loves them.


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