Community partnership expands exercise program for adults with disabilities

Josh Palmer, participant in Fit Together, performs a barbell push press at the Forge on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Fit Together is an exercise program for adults with autism spectrum disorder and an intellectual disability operated by UWindsor's Adapted PhyJosh Palmer, participant in Fit Together, performs a barbell push press at the Forge on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Fit Together is an exercise program for adults with autism spectrum disorder and an intellectual disability operated by UWindsor's Adapted Physical Exercise (APEX) Research Group in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Living Essex County.

UWindsor’s Adapted Physical Exercise (APEX) Research Group in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Living Essex County kicked off the continuation of their exercise program on Wednesday.

The program, titled Fit Together, takes participants with autism spectrum disorder and an intellectual disability and trains them in two, 90-minute exercise sessions a week for 12 weeks.

“This program has done wonders for the people we serve,” said Nancy Wallace-Gero, executive director of Community Living Essex County. “It not only helps to build confidence for people but gives them the physical exercise to develop good health and allows them the opportunity to genuinely feel accepted within the community.”

Nancy Wallace-Gero, Executive Director of Community Living Essex County and Michael Khan, Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology, are pictured at the kickoff of Fit Together on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

Nancy Wallace-Gero, executive director of Community Living Essex County and Michael Khan, dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology, are pictured at the kickoff of Fit Together on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

The sessions are supervised one-on-one by undergraduate and graduate students and include cardiovascular and strength training as well as sports and games.

The next phase of Fit Together has received Ontario Trillium Foundation funding through 2019 with the goal of continuing to remove barriers to physical activity.

Joshua Palmer is finishing up his third year in the exercise program and said his favourite part is participating in the organized sports.

“I like taking part in activities with the new people I have met,” Palmer said Wednesday, adding his favourite activity is basketball. “Taking part in the program makes me feel happy.”

Kelly Carr, project manager of Fit Together and Kinesiology PhD candidate, addresses the audience during the Fit Together showcase at the St. Denis Centre on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

Kelly Carr, project manager of Fit Together and doctoral candidate in kinesiology, addresses the audience during the Fit Together showcase at the St. Denis Centre on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

This ongoing community-university partnership will provide engaging and interactive resources for people with disabilities, which include an APEX manual and website, educational webinars, workshops, and fitness-related videos.

Kelly Carr, kinesiology PhD candidate and project manager for Fit Together, said participants are encouraged to participate in a physical activity of their choice so they “find fun and enjoyment in an activity that gets them moving.

“We want them to find motivation and enjoyment in exercise that translates to a sustainable, active lifestyle for the participants.”

For more information about Fit Together, visit www.uwindsor.ca/kinesiology/APEX.

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