Pay it Forward: KUTV

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(KUTV) The weather is hot and Utah’s parks and ball fields are full of kids at play. But summertime sports are often not an option for children with special needs. That was the case for many until Handstand for Goals came along.

This is the fifth year of the Handstands for Goals summer camp. More than 70 children with autism hit the field in Salt Lake City to play soccer with volunteer players.

A child with a condition on the autistic spectrum often has a difficult time on team sports. They may be easily distracted or unable to grasp the game. That is not a problem at Handstands for Goals.

“We just try to focus on loving them and providing an environment that they feel safe and feel good about themselves,” said Michelle Jensen.

Michelle founded Handstands for Goals five years ago to benefit her young neighbor Charlie Cunningham. Charlie, who lives with autism, was obsessed with watching and playing soccer with Michelle’s children in the yard. That love of the game inspired Michelle to invite dozens of children to enjoy two days of soccer each year.

Why the name Handstands for Goals?

“He did more handstands than soccer goals,” said Michelle. “So we named it Handstands for Goals.”

For parents, like Charlie’s mom, Jennifer, the camp focused on autistic children is a very happy release for her and her son. “To have somebody who would put in the time, and care, really makes a difference.”

To thank the many people that put together the camp each year, Handstands for Goals is this week’s Pay It Forward recipient.