Children who have autism excel in YouToo Tennis program.
Reporting by Diane Roberts, 9 Sports
MCLEAN, Va. (WUSA) -- Jason Lerner is a 17-year-old senior at The Potomac School in Maryland. For two hours every Sunday afternoon, you can find him on the Lewinsville Park Tennis Courts teaching children who have autism how to play.
"I have a brother with autism and so awhile ago I started helping him with tennis and I saw a lot of improvements," said Jason.
Various studies show exercise and other physical activity helps those on the autism spectrum, but most organized sports aren't quite so open to children in this community.
"Its hard for them on a team sport [because] they're usually the one dragging the team down," said Michelle Moss, Jason's mom.
Influenced by his own family dynamics, Jason started YouToo Tennis for children often left out. The honor student asked his tennis buddies to join him and the Autism Society of Northern Virginia became an enthusiastic partner.
"[It's] so exciting to see them engaged, capable [and] successful at playing something," said Kymberly Deloatche, executive director of the Autism Society of Northern Virginia.
The program is open to siblings because brothers and sisters help model the right behavior.
At the end of the eight week program, every student gets a trophy proclaiming them YouToo Tennis Champion. But the real prize is what the students and instructors share and that lives are changed.
The YouToo Tennis program has two sessions every Sunday between 4 and 6 p.m.