The A Team - an autism support group for area families - was created by Kurt and Gloria Vollert, about one year ago (read the full story ). The Vollerts are a Royersford couple whose son Alex has Asperger's Syndrome. In an effort to relate to other parents in the community in similar situations, the A Team was born.
Now, one year later, the support group will hold a one-year anniversary celebration on April 11 from 7 - 8:30 p.m. in Room 1 at the , 19 W. Linfield Trappe Rd. in Limerick (for more information, contact the Vollerts at firstname.lastname@example.org).
"We're going to have refreshments, food and drinks, and at 7:15, I'll do a short speech, tell people the things we've accomplished, things we're looking to do," said Gloria Vollert. "From 7:30 to 8:30, it's pretty much going to be a socialization time. The Y has opened up a Superstars Room, which is a special abilities playroom, and if the weather is nice, they have Sandy Land, which is a special abilities playground. We're going to do some drawings for a raffle and people can win different things donated by different places."
Some of the group's 2011 accomplishments include a 24-member increase (there are now 80 members), a Facebook page, various guest speakers on different topics pertaining to autism, and an email listserv with plenty of information.
As for events, the group had a swimming party, traveled through a corn maze near Lancaster, and had a bowling party at Limerick Bowl.
Vollert also said the group has the support of the Spring-Ford Area School District. Aside from holding meetings at the Spring-Ford 5-6 Center, the group also frequently sees all three special education supervisors from the district, who attend most of the meetings.
However, Vollert hopes the future can entail more participation from surrounding districts.
"What we need is we need to get out to the other districts," Vollert said. "Even though we're Spring-Ford's autism support network, it's the Spring-Ford area, not just the district."
The A Team just recently got in contact with someone at the Pottstown YMCA, which is staring a group, as well.
"We're going to try to combine and do some events with them once they get started so we can branch out," Vollert continued. "We just had a board meeting last night and we're going to try and go over and get some contact at Owen J. Roberts, because they're right there. There aren't really support groups in those other districts."
Vollert said the group is also preparing for annual Ice for Autism event on April 18 and 25. Owners Bev and Greg McNutt donate money back to a special fund at the Spring-Ford schools, which purchase items that can be used in the classroom for the autism program. The A Team will be in attendance at the Royersford location. The Collegeville location will also host the event.
The group is also already planning for 2013 with a local autism walk coming in April.
"That is going to be April 6, 2013," Vollert said. "It is going to be held at the Spring Valley Y, as well. The week before that, building up, every day at the Y, there's going to be some sort of autism event. Then the week will end with us having the autism walk there along with a vendor resource fair."
Overall, the group is grateful to the district for all it has done.
"I'd like to thank Spring-Ford for donating the use of their building for our meetings, which is very nice, and the support of the special ed supervisors to be there to help us," Vollert concluded.