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COLUMBIA - The Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders passed along some smiles to children and parents.

The center gave children the chance to learn soccer from Central Methodist University soccer team. The soccer team taught children teamworking skills, how to dribble, pass, and correctly kick the ball.

The event was broken up into two groups. The first group was for ages 3 to 10 years old and the second group was for 11 through 18 years old.

One parent Deron Widmer, said he enjoyed today because he was able to see his children smile.

“You see the benefit of using soccer as a form to do that and it’s just a good way to get them involved with other things they may not be used to or accustomed to,” he said.

He also said interactive events like these gives the parents a chance to interact too.

“It allows us to interact with other parents that also are having the same situations with the children and utilize things like this to share our experiences,” Widmer said.

Volunteer Ashlynn Freeman, said she enjoyed teaching the children soccer because she knows someone with the same disabilities some of the children have.

“My little brother has autism and so autism has always been a near and dear thing to my heart and I am also majoring in special education so that is also why I’ve always had a soft spot and a heart for disabled children,” said Freeman.

She said seeing the smiles on the children’s faces is rewarding for her.

“It makes me feel really good especially because disabled kids don’t have the chance to do these kinds of activities and this will give them the opportunity to do what other children do everyday and it makes me feel really special because I’m helping them do it,” Freeman said.

She said the children had the most fun kicking the ball into the goal and dribbling the ball.

Freeman said this was her first time doing this and she wants to create something similar of her own for disabled children.

One of the host for the event, Tracey Stroued, said while she wasn’t helping put the goodie bags together, she was enjoying watching everyone have fun.

“It’s really fun watching these parents enjoying seeing their kids and the kids having a blast and all the volunteers,” she said.

Stroued, said soccer is a sport that isn’t offered as much for disabled children in Columbia.

“Right now we don’t have a lot of adaptive opportunities for kids in our community.

She said she is working on trying to expand those opportunities for the future.