Zachary Certner co-founded SNAP, Inc. Special Needs Athletic Programs, to provide special needs children with sports programs to help them improve their social and athletic skills. Over the past six years, he has raised nearly $250,000 for the program and has an active mentor base of 450 middle- and high-school students as volunteers. His mentors provide free or low-cost programs five days a week for over 150 special needs families, giving special needs kids the chance to play basketball, soccer, and baseball, as well as try swimming, music and art.
SNAP also offers sensitivity training to students and teachers across New Jersey, New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin, New York, and Florida, with workshops designed to promote acceptance of special needs kids and to prevent bullying. By integrating props such as blindfolds, glasses, and balance balls, Zach helps people experience what it’s like to have a disability. He has conducted over 150 workshops, reaching nearly 3,500 students. Zach is currently working to distribute these trainings online via a series of webinars.
Recently, Zach has found that Special Needs children are treated far worse in foreign countries. His continued endeavor has been trying to combat this neglect and struggles abroad. Zach has started SNAP in Guatemala, Tanzania, and China. Whether it is integrating American sports into small African villages, building and funding a school in Guatemala, or introducing helpful tools and supplies to a Chinese SNAP program, Zach has enabled these children to live a better life.
Zach, 19, is studying at Duke University and plans to major in computer science with a concentration in finance while cooperating with the Fuqua Business School and Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.