TOWNSEND — A new non-profit has opened in Townsend offering services they say is in high demand in Montana. Inside Monique Prevel’s business space (pictured above), you will find different exercise equipment for workouts.
To many, these exercises may seem simple, but these workouts are for unique individuals. "It provides access to adaptive programs for individuals with autism, special needs, and their families," says Prevel.
Prevel says those with autism or other special needs may have difficulty performing day-to-day physical activities. She decided to become a certified fitness-focused instructor for this population after her own experience with her son in 2018.
"Due to the fact that my son, who is non-verbal autistic, started running,” laughs Prevel. “I just thought there needs to be something to focus his attention, to focus his energy on. So, I started researching fitness programs for autistic individuals. The only problem with that was, there's nothing like that program in Montana.”
To make sure not only her son has the privilege to be physically trained, Prevel founded Big Sky Autism Project, a non-profit based in Townsend. Prevel is a Certified Autism Fitness Instructor.
Additionally, her non-profit is the first certified fitness-focused instructional program for special needs students in the state, thanks to Autism Fitness.
Autism Fitness is a certification program based in New York. Here is their mission from their website:
“The Autism Fitness® Movement for Movement premise is simple; Deliver the highest standard of fitness and adapted PE programming through our Autism Fitness Certification®, consultations with ASD professionals and enable families worldwide access to our tools and experts locally. We consider fitness a life skill that is a necessity (not an option) for quality of life, optimal development, and lifelong independence.”
"I wanted to become certified because there's nothing here in Montana, other than the regular services,” says Prevel. “We need more autism and special need services that aren't just going to a doctor's office and doing [speech therapy] for 45 minutes."
Big Sky Autism Project hopes to, one day, expand their services across Montana and train other individuals to become Certified Autism Fitness Instructors.