Jeffrey Brown, 8, suffers from autism, and is comforted by new equipment purchased with proceeds from Covelli Enterprises’ Autism cookie sales.

The words on the page read as though they could be equipment for a boxing gym:

“A southpaw two-in-one swing and trapeze bar, a southpaw advantage line steam roller, a flaghouse crash mat.”

The nine other pieces of equipment are all part of a carefully studied system intended not to help people beat up on one another, but to improve the quality of life for those suffering from autism.

Samantha Kirkwood, the mother of an 8 year-old boy who suffers from autism, says the new equipment has improved her son’s life so much, that she wishes she could afford to have a set at home.

Windber Medical Center in Somerset County, Pennsylvania partnered with Covelli Enterprises to purchase the equipment to provide better services for children with autism who work with occupational therapists to improve their gross and fine motor control as well as their sensory issues.

“It’s worked wonders for my son,” Samantha said.

Amy Jeffords, administrative director, Foundation/Communications at Windber Medical Center, said the equipment will help in countless ways. “It’s amazing for us,” she said.

Samantha agrees. She said her son, Jeffrey Brown, had been going to Windber once a week for therapy sessions. But she said she is now going to try to get him there two times each week because the therapy sessions work so well for him.

“It’s just amazing how the new equipment helps so much,” she said. “He has a lot of sensory issues and some of the equipment puts pressure on his whole body. He needs whole body pressure.”

Jeffords explains why the equipment works for many children with autism. “These activities are often calming to a child with autism. Some children seek a lot of proprioceptive input, while others may fear or withdraw from it,” Jeffords said.

The funds for the equipment were raised from the April 2015 Covelli Enterprises campaign where Autism cookies in the shape of puzzle pieces were sold at all Covelli-owned Panera Bread cafes. Proceeds from the cookie sales at the Panera Breads near the Windber Medical Center were used for the equipment.

Jeffords said Windber is the only non-profit hospital in the area.

“We depend on philanthropy. That’s why Panera Bread’s support is so important to us,” she said.

The staff of Windber Medical Center poses with Jeffrey Brown, who has become one of the facility’s most popular patients.

The staff of Windber Medical Center poses with Jeffrey Brown, who has become one of the facility’s most popular patients.

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