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Local Kids Have a Ball During New Special Needs Program

A new four-week program for kids with special needs started Saturday at the Community and Recreation Center.

A new Special Needs Active Program (SNAP) kicked off at the (CRC) on Saturday.

The four-week program gives local children living with special needs a chance to get active, have fun and make some new friends.

"We try to get them moving for at least 30 minutes and get them sweating," said Jason Bogar, a CRC employee. "It gives them something to do on the weekend and something for them to look forward to during the week."

The attendees played soccer, basketball and more on Saturday. Next week, they will hit the pool.

Kelsey Valtz, a CRC employee and University of Pittsburgh graduate student, was put in charge of getting the program started.

"I have a brother with autism and he has really benefited from activity so I wanted to see other kids benefit," Valtz said.

The CRC collaborated with the Upper St. Clair School District to devise a plan to best benefit the children. Three special needs teachers from the district are helping on Saturdays including Mrs. Metta Majernik of , Mrs. Kathy Stasik of and Mrs. Jill Polfus of .

The parents involved are grateful for their work.

"I think it's awesome. Brendan loves this rec. center," said Eileen Pacalo, an Upper St. Clair mother of an 11-year-old participating in SNAP.

"It's unique for the township to offer this. It's a good thing. It shows acknowledgement that these kids are an important part of the community and not just an afterthought," said Steve Silverman, a Mt. Lebanon father of an 11-year-old participating in SNAP.

"There's not a lot of programs out there like this for kids with special needs. We have this amazing facility and it almost feels like our responsibility to do something," Bogar said.

The CRC has organized two fundraising activities this year — the and a — to help alleviate the cost for parents.

"We're always trying to think of different things to roll out to the community," Bogar said.

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