Portage County Kiwanis clubs band together for local family
By Kris Leonhardt
PORTAGE COUNTY – The Kiwanis Club of Stevens Point, in conjunction with the Plover Kiwanis, worked together to provide for a family whose daughter was diagnosed on the autism spectrum.
With help from their therapist, Lindsay Zimmerman, the Knecht family discovered the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan Kiwanis had an iPad project to help benefit their daughter, Ava.
“WI-UM Kiwanis District Past Governor Lynn and First Lady Merita Messer are passionate about helping children on the autism spectrum learn and communicate,” a Kiwanis release stated. “Their granddaughter, Kelsey, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of eight, so the Messers have firsthand experience with the unique challenges for children on the Spectrum.
“It has been proven that autistic children benefit from the use of software apps available for the Apple iPad. An iPad with a protective case and one app will cost approximately $500.”
Through the Wisconsin Upper Michigan Kiwanis Autism Project, the Messers help provide iPads and funding for children on the autism spectrum.
“The parents along with the therapists filled out the grant application and the local Kiwanis Club of Stevens Point was asked to support the local student from Washington Elementary. Due to the expense we reached out to the Plover club to support the joint venture of purchasing the iPad, case, and iTunes apps or cards that the therapist requested,” said Peter Valitchka, Kiwanis Club of Stevens Point president.
On Feb. 1, the groups presented the iPad, along with a green hardcover case requested by Ava, and the ITunes cards to the Knecht family.
“Such joy was evident from the parents and therapist that they have a tool to aid in Ava expressing and forming her words,” Valitchka added.
“The iPad For Kids Program revolutionized and unlocked the communication barrier for children on the spectrum. The iPad gives a voice to the voiceless.
“We were able to help a little girl today but also her family, friends, classmates to better understand Ava.”
For more information, www.kiwanisautismproject.com.