A Christmas run for autistic children

Jason Reid ran around the Hāwera Primary School field as part of his 12 Days of Christmas Challenge - he was joined by ...

JANE MATTHEWS/STUFF

Jason Reid ran around the Hāwera Primary School field as part of his 12 Days of Christmas Challenge – he was joined by many students throughout the day.

Rather than singing for the 12 days of Christmas, Jason Reid is running for them.

The change in tradition is for a good cause. Reid, the founder of Running on the Spectrum and teacher aide, is raising money to provide children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which covers autism and Asperger’s, with running shoes for Christmas.

After starting on December 1 Reid ran 200 kilometres in 12 days, one of which he spent running laps around the Hāwera Primary School field with the students.

“It’s about 10 half marathons all up,” Reid said.

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The 12 Days of Christmas Challenge was a virtual run – meaning anyone can be involved from anywhere – which was organised to raise money and awareness for Reid’s Taranaki-based charity.  The charity was set up to  buy running shoes for autistic children from all over New Zealand. 

Reid, who has high-functioning Asperger’s himself, has always wanted to help children on the spectrum by getting them into running and providing them with running shoes and a fitness movement programme.

He said a lot of kids affected by ASD were not into mainstream sports.

“They don’t fit in to the rugby or the cricket sort of team environment,” Reid said.

“There’s a lot of studies that have come out that say running is really emotionally good for kids on the spectrum. It clears their head a bit.”

There are people from all over New Zealand participating in the challenge, including autistic children with their parents.

Participants were able to choose their distance to complete over 12 days.

“There are 20 people in New Zealand doing 200km, they’re all very experienced runners,” Reid said.

“But it could be 12km over 12 days.”

The day at Hāwera Primary was less about raising awareness and more about having fun.

“The kids brought a gold coin donation,” Reid said.

“It was a good day for showing the kids perserverance, goal setting.”

Reid does various runs all over New Zealand to raise money and awareness for the charity.

He holds raffles at each event and said a lot of people in the “running community” supported him and his cause.

Reid has given out approximately 100 pairs of shoes to date, and raised thousands of dollars to buy more.

If you want to donate to Running on the Spectrum here is the Givealittle.

 – Stuff

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