Family Y Expands Special Needs Programs for Youth and Teens

The Westport Weston Family Y is introducing a range of new classes and programs designed to make exercise manageable and fun for teens and young adults with special needs.

“We’re committed to providing all our children with fitness classes that keep them strong and healthy, and over the past few months have worked closely with parents of these exceptional children to develop new programs specifically for them,” says Meg George, the Family Y’s Youth and Camp Director.

At the Family Y, these programs are presented in a setting that includes reduced class size, peer mentors, increased structure, a slower pace, and other accommodations. Among the new offerings:

Yoga for Kids with Special Needs
Designed for children ages 6-12, this class helps build strength, balance and flexibility. Children will learn to focus on breathing and their body. This six-week program begins Jan. 10, with classes taking place on Fridays, 4-4:45 pm. The cost for Y members is $90; $130 for non-members.

 ‘In Shape’ Special Needs
This class gives those with special needs the opportunity to have fun and learn to work out safely and properly with a Y Certified Personal Trainer. It’s offered on Thursdays, 4-5 pm, for youth ages 12 and older, and on Thursdays, 5-6 pm, for children ages 8-11. Winter Session classes begin Jan. 9 and continue until March 27. The cost for Y members is $225.

Jazz 1
Offered on Thursdays, 5-6 pm, this class is designed for young dancers with mild special needs and incorporates music, movement and socialization along with self-esteem building skills. Dress requirements are black leotard, black dance pants and black jazz slip-on shoes. For details, please contact Lillian Cenatiempo, Family Y Dance Center Director, at 203-226-8981, ext. 197; lcenatiempo@westporty.org.

Private Swim Lessons
Many of our swim instructors are available for private swim lessons. These sessions are scheduled when you and the instructor are available. To register your child, please complete a Private Swim Lesson Request form, available www.westporty.org, and submit it to Nicole Turechek at nturechek@westporty.org.

“We know there are many challenges that kids with special needs face, and we want them to have the same opportunities that other kids get,” says Nicole Turechek, Aquatic Director.  “Swimming is a great way to get the physical activity needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It also gives them a chance to let loose and have fun.”

The national obesity epidemic has a particularly devastating impact on individuals with special needs. According to government reports, 22.5% of teens with special needs are obese, compared to 16% of teens without disabilities. A major contributing factor for this discrepancy is the shortage of fitness options accessible to young people with special needs.

To learn more about special needs classes and all other Y programming, visit www.westporty.org or contact Meg George, mgeorge@westporty.org, or 203-226-8981.


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