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The New England Center for Children

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New England Center for Children Teacher Wins Prestigious Adapted PE Award from MAPHERD

Phil Leonard to Receive Amelia Riou Award for Adapted PE Teacher of the Year

Southborough, MA, June 03, 2020 --( The New England Center for Children® (NECC®), a global leader in education and research for children with autism, announced today that the Massachusetts Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD) will honor NECC adapted physical education instructor, Phil Leonard, MS with the 2020 Amelia Riou Award for Adapted PE Teacher of the Year this coming September at their annual Honors/Awards Banquet.

MAHPERD, which is dedicated to providing professional development opportunities, promoting leadership, and advocating for quality programs in the Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance fields, presents this award to recognize an outstanding hands-on practitioner who has made valuable contributions in the area of Adapted Physical Education.

“NECC is proud of Phil’s accomplishments and his role in developing and implementing our Adapted PE program,” said Catherine M. Welch, MSEd, Executive Director – NECC Southborough. “Our APE program provides rich leisure, recreation and sports experiences that help to build a future of independence for our students.”

“I am incredibly honored and grateful to be recognized by my peers with this MAHPERD award,” said Phil Leonard, Assistant Director of Adapted Physical Education, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy at NECC. “For students with autism, and generally for all kids with disabilities, physical fitness is such a critical component of their overall education and success, which is what makes it particularly rewarding to be able to do my job every day. NECC has championed the importance of physical education with our students, and I am proud to have played a role in shaping what has become a best practice Adapted Physical Education program for our school.”

Leonard, with NECC since 2005, is Assistant Director of Adapted Physical Education, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy. In that role, he leads the adapted physical education program, including all curriculum development, and oversees strategic collaboration among the OT, PT and APE teams to ensure alignment of services to students. A licensed physical education teacher with more than 15 years of experience teaching adapted physical education, Leonard has also mentored many student teachers who are now successful professionals in the field. He has a master’s degree in physical education from Bridgewater State University and has also been an active member of MAHPERD. His work within MAHPERD includes a three-year term on the organization’s Executive Board from 2012-2015.

During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, Leonard has been instrumental in leading the creation of an adapted physical education curriculum that serves students at home and in NECC’s fifteen residences. Like all schools in Massachusetts, the NECC day school is closed and students are home with their families or in NECC residential program homes. Leonard and his team created personalized exercise videos to meet students’ weekly individualized education program (IEP) physical health objectives. These videos address such topics as core, upper body and lower body strength, with equipment-free exercises. A dedicated YouTube channel contains more than 60 videos. Leonard is also investigating live exercise classes via Zoom.

The 27th Annual MAHPERD Honors/Awards Banquet will be on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020 at the DoubleTree Hotel, Milford, MA. For more information and to register please visit


The Massachusetts Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD) is a non-profit organization for professionals and students dedicated to physical education and professional development, research, and industry leadership. MAHPERD promotes liaisons with allied organizations and memberships in Eastern District Association (EDA) and Shape America.

About The New England Center for Children

The New England Center for Children® (NECC®) is an award-winning autism education center and research institute. Our community of teachers, researchers, and clinicians have transformed the lives of thousands of children with autism worldwide through education, research, and technology. The Center provides comprehensive services to maximize independence: home-based, day, and residential programs, partner classrooms in public school systems, consulting services, the ACE® ABA Software System (, teacher professional development, and research on educational best practices.

NECC is committed to staff professional development, partnering with local colleges to provide on-site graduate training and degrees at little to no cost to the NECC teacher. The result is a growing pool of exceptional teachers trained in best-in-class methodologies, whether they continue their careers at NECC or move on to public schools or private agencies. The New England Center for Children is based in Southborough, MA, and operates a center in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Learn more at
Contact Information
The New England Center for Children
Beth McGonagle
(508) 481-1015 x4034

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