A New Hampshire police department is offering free Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes this summer to kids with autism and Down syndrome, the Union Leader reports.
Detective David Lisboa, originally from Brazil, works in the domestic violence and sexual assault investigation unit at the Manchester Police Department, but he's also had experience working with people with high-functioning autism.
A similar program in Rio de Janeiro inspired him to open one in New Hampshire.
He says there are very few programs like this in New England.
Lisboa says jiu-jitsu is known for its focus on technique and leverage rather than physical strength, which is beneficial for people in wheelchairs, too.
He says the moment people with disabilities step onto the mat, they experience a transformation.
"It is amazing the impact it has on their personality and just on their overall behavior," he says.
"The curriculum will consider each person's unique needs, abilities, and will advance at the participant's pace.
The program also aims to create a family support system and provide a meeting space to create friendships.
To ensure the program reaches those who can benefit most, he is spreading the word in the Manchester School District and on Instagram, but he hopes people from all towns sign up.
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