With another month of 2021 behind us and spring firmly on its way, we have collated some of the feel-good stories that caught our eye from across the world during February.
The West Vancouver Minor Hockey Association recently made headlines after receiving huge interest in its newest plans to help make ice hockey accessible for everyone. Its proposed Hockey For Autism initiative involves older ice hockey players acting as mentors for autistic children trying the sport for the first time. As well as participation benefits for neurodiverse people, the volunteering opportunities will be valuable for the older players, who will receive specific training for the programme and develop employability skills.
Earning his stripes
Will Fried told Catch It Kansas that he was never the best basketball player growing up, but his love for the game has taken him down a different path that has been even more fulfilling. The 22-year-old has been a basketball referee for five years and has worked a variety of games at youth level, admitting that the most rewarding opportunity he received was officiating fellow autistic players and seeing the growth of autism acceptance in the US.
Ernie Sontaril is not just your average teacher; she also holds the record for the most appearances in the Singapore women’s national football team. Inspired by her work in the special education sector, she combined her two careers and founded Singa Champs, which is due to start next month. The initiative will provide opportunities for autistic children in a variety of activities in sports and the arts, in an autism-friendly environment that will help them flourish.
Behind the mic
Since starting The Jackson Robol Show in August, Jackson Robol has established a growing fanbase in his home state of North Carolina. The 17-year-old sports fan records video interviews with notable people in the community and uploads them to Facebook. It has provided Jackson, who has autism, with a means of talking to different people during the COVID-19 pandemic and to progress his communication skills, opening his eyes to the broadcast industry.
Jiya Rai was already the youngest girl in the world to have swam 14km in open waters, but in February, the 12-year-old more than doubled that distance on the coast of Mumbai to raise awareness of autism. Jiya has autism, and under guidance from the Swimming Federation of India she swam an impressive 36km from the famous Bandra-Worli Sea Link to Gateway of India in under nine hours, deservedly receiving lots of praise on social media.