By Greg Price
In recognizing the United Nations International Day of Persons With Disabilities (Dec. 3), the Taber Times has done a couple of feature stories on programs aiding that section of the community.
Now in its fourth year of existence, with the aid of community-minded sponsors, Pro Performance Athletic Centre has been the site of a personal training Special Olympics that has seen it grow in popularity.
“It really has grown. With the TCAPS Society (Taber Community Action and Prevention Society), Venture Holdings with Henk DeVlieger and Bruce Warkentin at MNP are the three main sponsors,” said Joel Mills, co-owner of Pro Performance.“I contacted Taber Special Needs, and I take all the assistants through with what is available at the gym and what are the options for their clients to do when they come into the gym. What I was trying to do more than anything, what I was trying to do was create the habit for the special needs clients to stay active, especially in the winter months when there is snow on the ground where it makes it harder to stay active. It is giving Taber Special Needs the option to stay active during the winter.”
The benchmark goal is for the Taber Special Needs clients to be encouraged do workouts three times a week for the program which this year goes from November until February, for participants to get their Special Olympics medal at the end of the program.
“We give them their medal and then take them out to lunch to celebrate. I know my customers love it. There are certain special needs customers that have got into a rhythm that come at the same time every day, so the same people get to see the same people every day,” said Mills, adding while the benchmark may be three times a week, some special needs clients love it so much, they come every day to the gym and stay on for longer than when the program ends its duration.
“There becomes a social aspect to it where everyone is working hard together among the clients. I give suggestions on exercises that would be safe because of course everyone has different capabilities. Some come in and walk around the gym, some work on the treadmill, some of them hit the bag and they love to box. It’s probably the most rewarding thing I get to do when I run the gym is the special needs program.”
The Special Olympics workout program has seen itself grow from its beginning of 15 to 30-plus clients now.