Community Spotlight: Zumba Charity Brings Autism Awareness
For six years Beth Van Engelenhoven has been a Zumba instructor. You can see her working up a sweat and full of energy at Knockout Fit Club in Bemidji.
She’s also on the Bemidji Autism Network and is a mother of three with two autistic children. Autism impairs the ability to communicate and interact.
“You know, when our boys were diagnosed 10 years ago of course it wasn’t where it is now in terms of awareness,” said Zumba Instructor Beth Van Engelenhoven. “So every year as people get to know other families and know kids, of course there’s more understanding.”
April is Autism Awareness Month and Knockout Fit Club is on a mission. On this day donations for their 5th Annual master class will go to Project Lifesaver.
“A system where law enforcement officials can use the system to help locate individuals who might have cognitive or language issues,” said Van Engelenhoven.
About 40 worked it out and for Beth she considers attendees her Zumba family.
“A nice way to relieve stress and I think it always seems like Zumba is the exercise and the sweat that you get out of it is really secondary to the nourishment of your soul,” said an Engelenhoven.
This is Emily Lien’s second year attending the Autism Charity event and is happy having a support group of other parents raising autistic children as she is also the parent of an autistic child.
“You want the best for your child, you have ideas to ask of your fellow moms or dads, it’s also support for people generally don’t know what to do in certain situations,” said Lien.
Van Engelenhoven says she hopes autism awareness will shed light for those who tend to judge other children as simply acting out.