On Tuesday, February 12th, the South Boston Boys and Girls Club celebrated the official opening of their newly renovated, and fully inclusive, youth fitness room. PYD’s Regina Snowden, Steve Slowinski, and Kaela Vronsky, were there to revel with them in this great achievement. Funding for the renovation came through PYD’s Inclusive Fitness for Youth Initiative, a three year program funded by the Boston Foundation that has set the goal of improving accessibility and the inclusiveness of fitness and recreation programs in Boston. PYD pulled in collaborators Mary Patstone from the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network’s Adaptive Sports Program and Eli Wolff from the Institute for Human Centered Design, who along with Jessie Kandel (The Boys and Girls Club of Boston Inclusion Facilitator) made for an all-star team!
The new fitness room’s accessible features include wheelchair-friendly equipment such as an NUstep Recumbent Elliptical machine, a Keiser Functional Trainer, floor mats for stretching and floor exercises, a Burn Machine, free weights (including lower weight options), and Thera-Bands. Boys and Girls Club staff also got rid of old equipment and painted the walls with a bright blue and orange modern city landscape. The Club’s athletic director will be designing programming to encourage youth to use the fitness room, but many youth have already expressed great interest and enthusiasm about using the new equipment. Congratulations to Jessie and the rest of the club’s staff for this and other great strides forward in their inclusion initiative!
One unexpected-but-pleasant surprise was to see the intersection of the National Center’s inclusive fitness program, with the Mentor Match program’s site-based research project for teens with autism. In this program, mentees with high functioning autism or Aspergers met with their mentors at the South Boston or Arlington Boys and Girls Clubs weekly for six months. One South Boston club mentee, who through this program became a comfortable and regular member of the Club, actively participated in the fitness room’s renovation and was there for the opening as well.
We are so delighted to be leaving footprints of inclusion in Boston! Stay tuned for more upcoming news about the Inclusive Fitness for Youth Initiative.