Monday, November 15, 2010

Wanted: an integrated gym

This post has nothing to do with kayaking, but with the expression on Ben’s face (right).

This is how Ben looks every time I pick him up after his weekly physiotherapy session at Holland Bloorview. He’s ecstatic and chipper and obviously coming off of a workout “high.” He doesn’t get a lot of exercise during the week, but this hour of walking on the treadmill, climbing stairs and tossing a ball in the gym leaves him in a sweat.

I can only imagine that he would benefit from more of it.

It made me think it would be a great business opportunity for someone to start a gym for kids with and without disabilities. It would need to have a physiotherapist and perhaps other professionals who could oversee the activities for kids with disabilities. We would be one of the first to sign up!

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Amy Baskin, author of More than a Mom last week. I interviewed Amy about children with significant developmental disabilities who age out of high school at age 21, but have few opportunities for meaningful activities during the day, leaving their parents to scramble to create a good life for them.

“Why doesn’t some entrepreneur say: ‘There are all these adults looking for something funky to do’ and come up with something creative, like a cooking club?" Amy said. "There’s a whole group of people not being served and often money isn’t the issue. It’s that there’s nothing to purchase.”

I’d love to hear of innovative businesses you know that have sprouted up to target the needs of kids or adults with disabilities.


In Los Angeles, there are two organizations that serve kids with disabilities in recreational therapy -- they're called Leaps 'N Boundz and Big Fun. The classes are terrific, held in huge gymnastics gyms. I'd do it more often for Sophie, but I can't afford it --

I do agree with Amy, though, that there should be more opportunties for kids like ours to socialize -- the thought of aging out of school with nothing to do is terrifying.

I think Dimitri would enjoy more sports activities, particularly team activities, it's a hard thing for parents to organise by themselves.

This is not entirely relevant but it just popped into my head, I used to live in Birmingham in the UK, the SpecEd school in my area was this one
Calthorpe Specialist Sports College
Other schools in the area which don't have facilities use the sports facilities here (if I remember correctly), which I think could be a nice way for integration to work, bringing kids from mainstream schools into the specialist school.

What happens after school is another question..

It's great to see Ben enjoying himself!

Variety Village has many interesting recreational & social programs for individuals with disabilities and non. Their L.I.N.K.S program sounds really interesting. Though with Variety Village location my be an issue for many people, I'm not sure how their Variety on the Road works.

I think opportunities are out there it's just really hard to find them in many cases.

Hi everyone -- thanks for these links. I haven't heard of Variety on the Road -- yes, their location is a bit far for us (but I've heard great things from families who have club memberships with them).

Elizabeth -- are young adults in California entitled to any ongoing education after age 21? Someone told me that different rules applied in the US.

Emma -- that is a great idea -- reverse integration for using the gym.

Of interest:

A gym for every body