Autism Awareness Day #LightItUpBlue

April of each year is designated by the United Nations, as World Autism Awareness Month. April should be used not only to bring awareness, but also create avenues to increase your understanding and foster a culture of acceptance of those with autism and other abilities.

We are excited to advise you that this year the YMCA of South Florida will be celebrating the 15th Annual World Autism Awareness Day on Friday, April 1st, 2022. We invite and encourage you to join us, and be a part of the Light It Up Blue campaign to recognize those with autism and those who love and support them!

2021 Autism Awareness Highlights

This year, our Y has chosen to recognize this initiative by the following:

  • April 1st, 2022 – Participate in the Light It Up Blue campaign, please show your support by wearing BLUE. Be sure to post your photos J and remember to tag:  @ymcasoflo (Instagram and Twitter) with hashtags #LightItUpBlue  #LightupwithKindness or @YMCASouthFlorida (Facebook).
  •  Y’s Special Needs Department Newsletter, which highlights our locations and services for those of varying abilities.
  • Our Y’s Special Needs Department leaders, students, and families were highlighted in a PBS episode. This episode will be aired on:
    • Saturday, April 2 at 6:30 pm on WXEL – TV, virtual channel 42 is a Public Broadcasting  Service member television station serving West Palm Beach, Florida
    • Sunday, April 3 at Noon on WPBT – TV, virtual channel 2 is a Public Broadcasting  Service member television station serving Miami, Florida

Please note that the episodes will also stream live on Saturday, April 2 at 6:30pm, to access the episode.

Watch on Facebook:

Watch on Youtube:


The YMCA has been the leader serving those with disabilities, special needs, and developmental challenges. Learning to read, tying your shoe, going on your first field trip, working at your first job, or simply making a new friend are experiences that create lasting memories. For students who have special needs, reaching these milestones come with unique challenges.

The Y currently offers inclusion afterschool and summer programs at elementary and middle schools with programming above and beyond the quality standard using evidence-based components

•Project Based Learning /STEAM

•YFit using SPARK curriculum

•Family Involvement Initiatives

•Literacy Activities and academic enrichment through homework help and technology

Our high school programs provide opportunities for older students to learn, grow and thrive as independent members of a community.



The Y MOST (Maximizing Out of School Time) program is designed for children, teens and adults beginning at age 4 through 22 with a wide range of special needs, including physical, developmental, sensory and learning disabilities. The service structure and program schedules closely mirror that of a typical Y afterschool or summer program.


STEP (Supported Training Employment Program) is designed to help teens and young adults with special needs ages 16-22 transition to independence. During the school year, Y STEP students identify and explore post-secondary career and educational interests to develop the skills needed to become successful adults and over the summer placed in a supported work environment.

(Inclusive Sports Program)

The YMCA of South Florida and the City of Pembroke Pines has collaborated to provide Adaptive Sports and Swim Buddies. The Adaptive Sports Program is a unified program that provides a noncompetitive and competitive atmosphere for participants ages four years old and older, with and without a disability.


Special Olympics of Broward County, YMCA of South Florida and the City of Pembroke Pines has collaborated to provide Special Olympics. The City of Pembroke Pines Special Olympics sports provides a competitive atmosphere for participants ages eight years old and older, with and without a disability.


YMCA Family Center Locations

Elementary and Middle School Special Needs Locations

  • Atlantic West Elementary, Margate
  • Bethune Elementary, Hollywood
  • Castle Hill Elementary, Lauderhill
  • Country Isles Elementary, Weston
  • Cypress Hammock Park Center, Coral Springs
  • David Park Center, Hollywood
  • Deerfield Park Elementary, Deerfield Beach
  • Hollywood Park Elementary, Hollywood
  • Horizon Elementary, Sunrise
  • Larkdale Elementary, Fort Lauderdale
  • Maplewood Elementary, Coral Springs
  • Oakland Park Elementary, Oakland Park
  • Park Springs Elementary, Coral Springs
  • Pasadena Lakes Elementary, Pembroke Pines
  • Pinewood Elementary, North Lauderdale
  • Silver Lakes Elementary, Miramar
  • Silver Ridge Elementary, Davie
  • Thurgood Marshall Elementary, Fort Lauderdale
  • Walter C. Young Middle, Fort Lauderdale
  • West Hollywood Elementary, Hollywood
  • Wingate Oaks Center, Fort Lauderdale

High School Special Needs Locations

  • J.P. Taravella High, Coral Springs
  • Stranahan High, Fort Lauderdale
  • Cypress Bay High, Weston

Volunteer Registration

Request Additional  Special Needs information