Best foot forward

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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON

@alliedpress.co.nz

Jason Reid is a man on a mission.

That mission is to raise money so he can buy new running shoes for children with autism.

Last week, it was Central Otago’s turn to reap the rewards.

Mr Reid, of Hawera, in Taranaki, raised enough money to buy nine pairs of shoes for children in the area after completing the 50km section of this year’s Northburn 100 Mountain Run.

Mr Reid was given free entry to the race, which he then used to “leverage” some free shoes for autistic children, race director Terry Davis said.

“We were very happy to sponsor him.”

Mr Reid, who is a teacher of special needs children, including those on the autism spectrum, established the charity “Running on the Spectrum New Zealand Autism Support” 20 months ago.

He has designed a tailored fitness programme for the children, which he uses during his teaching.

“I have Asperger’s [syndrome] myself,” Mr Reid told The News in March.

“My aim is to get children around New Zealand who are on the spectrum on to a running and movement programme.”

He said studies had shown the benefits those on the spectrum gained from running and other movement.

The latest collection of shoes were distributed among the children last week, including Dylan McElhinney, Harley Munsey and Connor Bride, all of who are on the spectrum.

NRG Health and Fitness personal trainer Andy Hamilton runs a fitness class with the children.

Central and Southern Autism Support Group Odette Bride said the classes make a big difference to the children.

“We decided to come here because [some of them] weren’t participating in PE [at school],” she said.

“But, here when they’re with their friends and they’ve just got Andy, they seem to really love it.”

Mr Hamilton, a trained secondary school teacher, has worked with dyslexic and autistic children in the past and appreciates just how important exercise is to people, particularly those on the spectrum.