Ja­son wants your vote

Stratford Press - - News - By ILONA HANNE

Taranaki ul­tra run­ner Ja­son Reid is in the run­ning to win the Peo­ple’s Choice Award in the AMP Dare To Dream com­pe­ti­tion, and he needs your help.

Ja­son was named the win­ner of the AMP Taranaki Re­gion Dare to Dream Schol­ar­ship ear­lier this year, which gave him $5000 for his char­ity, Run­ning on the Spec­trum.

Win­ning the re­gional award made him a fi­nal­ist for the Peo­ple’s Choice Award, which is based on text votes. If he wins, he will re­ceive an­other $5000.

“Each fi­nal­ist has a very dif­fer­ent cause. From in­di­vid­ual sport­ing dreams, to start­ing a busi­ness or go­ing over­seas for study or a sport­ing com­pe­ti­tion. My cause is about help­ing kids with autism by gifting them a new pair of run­ning shoes to in­tro­duce them to how run­ning can help with autism.”

Ja­son says re­search from the United States has shown chil­dren on the autis­tic spec­trum ben­e­fit from run­ning both phys­i­cally and men­tally.

It’s not just Amer­i­can re­search that con­vinced him how­ever, Ja­son him­self is on the spec­trum and says run­ning helps clear his mind.

“I have al­ways loved run­ning and when I am run­ning, I find my mind can re­lax a bit. Liv­ing with autism or as­perg­ers means your mind is al­ways go­ing at full speed, it doesn’t stop. Run­ning is re­lax­ing and gives you a bit of a men­tal break.”

Ja­son lives in Ohawe and works as a teacher aide in Haw­era. “I have worked with many chil­dren on the spec­trum through the years, and have seen for my­self how run­ning can help.”

Un­like cricket or rugby, run­ning is a solo sport, says Ja­son, which is one of the rea­sons it ap­peals to chil­dren liv­ing with autism.

“Kids on the spec­trum can also strug­gle with rules at times, not in the sense of break­ing them nec­es­sar­ily, but need­ing to un­der­stand all the rules be­fore they can do some­thing. Run­ning has less rules, it is just you, your body and the course you are run­ning.”

Ja­son takes a day off work ev­ery week to work on his char­ity, which has al­ready handed out hun­dreds of pairs of shoes to chil­dren. “It’s not just Taranaki kids, wher­ever I go in New Zealand to run, I take shoes with me and I give them out to kids on the spec­trum.”

Ja­son says he goes into schools to talk to them about autism and to hand out shoes, and spends a whole day run­ning around the school field.

“Kids come out and join me in their play­times, or classes come out with their teacher dur­ing the day. They en­joy see­ing it and giv­ing it a go.”

Cur­rently Ja­son keeps the shoes in the boot of his car, but would like to up­grade to a van with shelv­ing in­stalled so he have find the right sizes eas­ier, and trans­port more pairs of shoes at a time.

“I have been very lucky thanks to great sup­port from Nick at New Ply­mouth’s Shoe Clinic to be able to al­ready buy so many pairs of shoes and it would be great to have a van to be able to have even more shoes in stock at a time.

Ja­son’s wife Shona is an­other great sup­port, he says, help­ing with the web­site and so­cial me­dia side of the char­ity, as well as tol­er­at­ing the fact hol­i­days over­seas of­ten in­volve vis­it­ing shoe shops.

“Last time in Aus­tralia we had to buy a new suit­case to fit all the run­ning shoes in.”

Ja­son’s work with chil­dren on the spec­trum and run­ning has gained more than just lo­cal at­ten­tion. Next month he flies to the US to speak at an autism con­fer­ence on his char­ity.

■ To help Ja­son win the AMP Peo­ple’s’s Choice Award, text Ja­son to 2948. Please note SMS car­rier charges may ap­ply. Vot­ing is lim­ited to one vote per per­son. Vot­ing is open now to Oc­to­ber 21.

Ja­son Reid wants to get chil­dren on the autism spec­trum run­ning.

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