The start of April is here and so too is the latest Spautism Global Spectrum, helping you begin the new month with some feel-good vibes from the world of autism and sport.
Swimming record in South Asia
Jiya Rai, a 13-year-old swimmer from Mumbai, set a record for the fastest time a female has ever swam across the Palk Strait, which goes from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka to Dhanuskodi in India. Jiya, who has autism, travelled the 29 kilometres in 13 hours and 10 minutes, bettering the previous record of 13 hours and 52 minutes. The event was supported by the Para Swimming Federation of India along with other sporting organisations, and Jiya’s ultimate goal is to swim in every ocean in the world.
CHAMP initiative makes dreams come true
The U.S. Men’s National Team’s (USMNT) CHAMP initiative allowed brothers Elijah and Jeremiah to tour the team’s locker room and watch the warm-ups prior to the team’s World Cup qualifying match against Panama in Orlando on 27th March. CHAMP is a Volkswagen robot that enabled the brothers to virtually take part in the pre-game activities. Elijah and Jeremiah both have autism and a huge passion for soccer, while also participating in activities with the Autism Society of Greater Orlando.
Hunter the off-court superstar
From the small town of Porum, Oklahoma, 22-year-old Hunter Sheppard has become a renowned expert on Oklahoma high school sports. Hunter has Asperger’s syndrome and is now a regular face at State Fair Arena, which is where the Class A-B basketball state tournaments took place in March. From recording video to providing play-by-play commentary for games, Hunter has a hand in all the media coverage by giving up his time voluntarily. Hunter was never able to play on the court, but that has not stopped him from becoming a major voice in Oklahoma high school sports coverage.
Elizabeth Kitley is a standout women’s basketball player for the Virginia Tech university and has an easy choice when it comes to picking her biggest fan and inspiration — her half-sister, Raven. Raven is autistic and just as competitive as Elizabeth when it comes to sports, playing basketball, volleyball, softball, and roller skating as part of the Special Olympics programme. Virginia Tech designated a home game in December as an Autism Awareness Game.