The GoalNYCA created the Boost! after school programs to help children with ASD learn to communicate and socialize in a fun group setting while learning about the world around them. NYCA provided grants to local community based organizations in New Jersey, Long Island and New York City to create Boost! for children with ASD ages 6 to 18.
The ModelThe Boost! model is a highly structured after-school recreational program. Participants are offered the same types of activities that their typical peers enjoy such as off-site activities including visits to stores, restaurants and bowling facilities.
Peer MentorsA unique component of Boost! is the involvement of typically developing children ages 7-18 who become the social buddies of the program participants. The buddy’s role is to help a child with ASD learn how to socialize and communicate with friends in a group setting.
Staff DevelopmentNYCA’s objective in creating Boost! was to develop professional capacity in community organizations already providing recreational activities to typically developing children. To this end, extensive staff training and ongoing professional development are offered. In the initial program set up phase, Colleague Roundtables were conducted and electronic exchange of information allowed professionals in the three sites to develop a strong infrastructure which facilitated problem solving, thereby ensuring a high level of program quality. NYCA has continued to provide funding to support professional development training opportunities. NYCA encourages the development of future professionals by having Boost! sites engage college interns as a regular component of Boost! .
Boost! is based on an exemplary after school program in Chicago, Have Dreams. NYCA’s goal was to create a model for replication so that other after school programs across the country can be created to serve and integrate children with ASD in a typical setting. These programs will enable children with ASD to develop the skills that they need to live joyful and productive lives within society.
NYCA and JCC Joint Press Release 7/16/2013
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