In advance of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced that she’s allocating $1 million in discretionary capital funds toward the construction of a new gym for autistic individuals in Howard Beach.
The 3,800-square-foot Center for Physical Achievement gymnasium and fitness space will provide a space of social interaction and an organized play environment for children who otherwise have a difficult time interacting with peers. Experts say that recreational programs supervised by counselors can be beneficial in assisting children to develop not only healthy bodies, but healthy social skills.
This $1 million allocation will help the New York Families for Autistic Children center complete the $2 million addition. When opened, the gym will include specialized exercise equipment modified for special needs individuals and a long menu of recreational services and programs from basketball and volleyball to aerobics, creative movement and yoga.
The gym will be a place where individuals with autism spectrum disorder can “better learn to take care of their bodies as well as their minds,” said NYFAC President and CEO Andrew Baumann, praising the project as “the center first of its kind in Queens.”
Katz has been a longtime advocate of the autistic community. In the past two fiscal years, Katz has allocated $305,000 for Quality Services for the Autism Community which has gone toward after-school programs and the purchase of five specialized transport vans.
“All of our families — including those who have children with an autism spectrum disorder — should get the investment of resources and facilities to help reach their full potential,” said Katz. “If it’s good for families, it’s good for Queens.”