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Natural Awakenings Ann Arbor Michigan

Fitness is Everyone’s Right

Dec 02, 2018 08:52PM
by Kalli Nowitzke

Young adult students with special needs can use the Open Arms Scholarship and ride the city bus to the YMCA location in Ann Arbor where students complete a swimming routine, walking routine and lift weights at the gym.

According to the Health of Persons with Disabilities in Michigan Annual Data Report for 2017, “Roughly 25.1 percent of adults in Michigan report being disabled; 46.5 percent of adults with disabilities report their health as fair or poor, compared to 8.1 percent of their non-disabled counterparts; and 37.5 percent of people with disabilities reported not getting any leisure time physical activity, compared to 21.4 percent of people without disabilities.” Also, 52 percent of adults with disabilities reported having high blood pressure, compared to 27 percent of people without disabilities.

The county-wide Liberty Young Adult Program supports students with special needs at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, and works to find fitness programming opportunities within the community. For students to participate in fitness programs, students must be taught how to transport themselves to the fitness location, dress appropriately, use appropriate social skills, apply for scholarship money, earn money to support their fitness, budget fitness opportunities into their weekly or monthly expenses, and learn the exercise routines. Once the students learn all the necessary steps to participate in a fitness program, they can enter a regular fitness program after graduation.

One opportunity for young adult students with special needs is to use the Open Arms Scholarship and ride the city bus to the YMCA location in Ann Arbor. There, students complete a swimming routine, walking routine and lift weights at the gym. The entire class participates in Chelsea Ballet programming for people with special needs through the Five Towns Grant.

The A2 Fitness Professionals, a therapy program for people with special needs, works with the entire class on a fitness routine designed to help meet students’ fitness needs, as well as sensory and behavioral needs. The goal is for students to continue to participate in these programs, provided by our community, after they graduate. Thus far, all of our students who have graduated are involved in one of these programs or have a fitness plan at home.

Kalli Nowitzke is a special education teacher in the Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Ann Arbor. Connect with her at [email protected].

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