OLD TOWN, Maine — Eastern Maine-based nonprofit organization The Courageous Steps Project is helping kids and young adults with varied abilities and challenges in and out of the classroom.
On Sunday afternoon the organization held its 10th annual Walk-Run.
The nonprofit was created by Connor Archer in 2014 when he was a sophomore in high school. He lives with autism and wanted to give back to the programs and services that benefitted him growing up.
"I want to make sure the opportunity for intervention and support services are there for everyone," Archer said. "It's ensuring that other children and young adults have the same opportunities as I've had and continue to have."
Since its start in 2014, the nonprofit has supported more than 35 programs in eastern Maine, according to its website, and has helped more than 2,000 kids in the region through various initiatives.
The Courageous Steps Project coordinates back-to-school drives, has an inclusive preschool program, Green House Village Preschool, offers wandering prevention resources for families, a scholarship fund and a wish list initiative to help teachers with challenged students learn skills in a regular classroom setting.
Conner's mother, Jessica Archer, is a school teacher and was also her son's at-home teacher when he was a child.
"When he was 14 years old, he wanted to talk to his peers about his autism and he did, and they were so encouraged and inspired him to then do this walk run," she said.
Ten years later, people are still pushing this cause forward to help children and young adults in Maine.
"As much as I've taught him, he has taught me equally if not more about patience about compassion, and how individuals just learn differently," Jessica Archer said.