Participants at the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services and the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center took part in a basketball clinic led by Walk On America Foundation co-founder and Duke University basketball player Brennan Besser. The event marked the final day of Besser’s continent-wide bicycle journey, from Seattle to Manhattan, in which he promoted awareness of and support for individuals affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and raised funds for the Walk On America Foundation.
In welcoming Besser, GSAPP Associate Dean and Director of Applied and Academic Autism Services Lara Delmolino noted that Rutgers University is home to the first university-based school for people with autism: the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, founded in 1972. “Rutgers has been serving the needs of people with autism spectrum disorders and their families for a very long time,” said Delmolino. “Today we have embraced forming a community around autism at the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services,” a new organization at the university that provides comprehensive support services for adults with autism to encourage community inclusion through meaningful vocation and recreational activities. “The people who participate in this pioneering program are a valuable part of our Rutgers community,” said Delmolino.
Before heading out to the basketball court, RCAAS and DDDC participants and staff met with Besser to learn about his foundation and its goals and to hear about his experience riding his bicycle from coast to coast. Besser, in turn, heard from RCAAS staff and participants about the work of the organization and its ground-breaking employment program that focuses on integrating adults with ASD into the university community, while providing meaningful and rewarding employment that pays competitive wages.
Walk on America Foundation co-founder and Duke University basketball player Brennan Besser visits the RCAAS. Pictured from left to right: DDDC Director Catriona Francis; Rachel Besser, sister of Brennan Besser; Brennan Besser; GSAPP Associate Dean Lara Delmolino; RCAAS Executive Director Christopher Manente; and RCAAS Behavior Analyst Douglas Stracquadanio.
Brennan Besser talks with RCAAS staff and participants.
Walk on America Foundation co-founder and Duke University basketball player Brennan Besser (left) dribbles alongside a Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center (DDDC) student at the Cook Campus Recreation Center.
RCAAS and DDDC participants take part in a basketball clinic with Duke University basketball player Brennan Besser.