Pine Community Center hosting adaptive fitness classes

Saturday, April 13, 2019 | 1:30 AM


A new adaptive fitness program at Pine Community Center designed for teenagers and young adults with disabilities will begin this May, filling a need that exists in the center’s current offerings.

“Pine-Richland School District is really well known for their special education programs, so we do get a lot of families with kids with special needs,” said Megan Wollerton, who will teach the classes. “Several parents brought up that it would be nice if classes were offered specifically for their child with autism, or with Down syndrome, or something where they would be able to function well in class without it being overstimulating.”

Six-week class sessions begin May 7 and June 2 and could include boxing, cardio, strength exercises and other activities, but instructors plan to work with parents and caregivers and tailor the exercises to who shows up. They also hope to partner with Pine-Richland’s Best Buddies club, which pairs students in regular education with students in the life-skills education program to take part in activities, go to events and spend time socializing together.

“It’s not going to be as structured or rigid as a formal fitness class where you have a lot of choreography or quick transitions,” Wollerton said. “It could be hockey or basketball or teaching them some new skills that also work cognitive function. We’ll also monitor the stimulus and create an environment that’s comfortable where they can enjoy themselves.”

Wollerton is a certified personal trainer and health coach who has previously worked with children and adults with special needs. She also has family members with special needs, she said, and values the benefits the programming will bring.

“I know my family would appreciate this in their own communities and would like to see this offered more,” she said.

Tess Osborne, fitness coordinator for the center, said she isn’t aware of adaptive classes offered at other area community centers.

“I know that a lot of community centers offer open gyms where kids can come and play basketball and things like that, but I don’t know of any structured programs set up on a regular basis for kids with special needs,” she said.