Lacrosse for Autism
My name is Ben Baranker, and I am the founder of Lacrosse for Autism. Our program began in 2013 in the Toms River Regional School District. With the help of my brother and co-founder, Hayden, we have expanded into the Lacey and Berkley Schools districts. My brother and I combined have volunteered over 500 hours with special needs children in Toms River. I will be entering Brown University and playing lacrosse there in 2017. Hayden will be a graduate of Toms River High School North in 2020. He is on their varsity lacrosse team.
Both myself and Hayden have been playing organized sports since we were 4 years old. Our favorite sport is lacrosse. In 2012 and 2013, I volunteered 60 hours each summer in the six week Extended Summer Year Program in the Toms River Regional School district. Each day I spent in the classroom made me realize how amazing these children are. Unfortunately, they do not always get the same opportunity to participate in certain sports. When I was outside on the playground with these children, I noticed they were balls of energy. I formed bonds with them both on the playground and in the classroom. I wanted to bring my passion for lacrosse to these children who might not have the opportunity to experience all the fun in lacrosse like I have been privileged too. Hayden volunteered with me a few hours towards the end of the summer. He was 100% on board to help start the clinic.
The children at our clinics have fun learning the following skills of lacrosse: shooting into the net, passing, catching, and scooping. They not only enjoy playing lacrosse, but they interact with their peers and the volunteers (without we would not be a success) which I truly feel is the most important experience they have. Our volunteers are all high school lacrosse players. Each child uses a fiddle stick, a smaller version of a regular lacrosse stick, and a soft lacrosse ball. At the beginning of the Lacrosse for Autism clinic, a few children were hesitant about playing. However, by the end every child’s face had a smile as they mastered the skills and scored in their favorite drill, shooting on goal during a drill or actual game with their new friends.
We are proud and honored to announce that POAC Autism Services will be fully sponsoring and underwriting Lacrosse for Autism. POAC is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit, and has a proven track record of providing services to children and adults with autism, their families, and the professionals who serve them. POAC is the largest provider of FREE autism training, education, awareness and recreation in the state. In addition, POAC administers the Ocean/Monmouth County Challenger Sports League for Middle School and High School students.
Ben and Hayden Baranker
The dates of the program are as follows:
Sunday, March 12th Sunday, March 19th Sunday March 26 Sunday, April 9th
Session Times are:
Session 1 is 9:30-10:30am Session 2 is 11:00am-12:00pm
Please choose only one session time.