WESTPORT, Conn. — As a community staple, the Westport Weston Family Y is always looking at ways to better serve its members. That’s why the Y is rolling out new classes and programs specifically for children and teens with special needs.
Designed to make exercise more manageable and fun for children and teens with special needs, the new program offerings include yoga and dance classes. These classes will be smaller in size and presented at a slower pace. They will also feature peer mentors, increased structure and other accommodations.
“We are committed to providing all our children with fitness classes that keep them strong and healthy,” said Meg George, the Y’s youth and camp director.
George and other Y officials worked closely with parents of children with special needs over the past few months to develop these programs. Parents, she said, provided a lot of feedback on the types of activities they would like to see made available to their children.
“One of the biggest things we heard from parents is that they want their kids to have the same experiences other children have,” George said. “So we want to make sure we provide the same type of opportunities. For example, a child might not make it onto the travel basketball team, but they can take basketball classes. That’s the direction we’re going.”
Among the new offerings is Yoga For Kids With Special Needs. This six-week program, designed for children between ages 6 and 12, helps build strength, balance and flexibility, and teaches how to focus on breathing and their body. Classes will be held Fridays from 4 to 4:45 p.m. beginning Jan. 10. The cost is $90 for Y members and $130 for non-members.
Another new program is “In Shape” Special Needs. This class is led by a Y certified personal trainer and teaches youths how to work out safely and properly. It’s offered on Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m., for children 12 and older, and on Thursdays from 5 to 6 p.m. for children between 8 and 11. Classes begin Jan. 9 and continue until March 27. The cost is $225 for Y members.
For students interested in dance, there’s a Jazz 1 class. Offered on Thursdays from 5 to 6 p.m., this class incorporates music, movement and socialization, along with self-esteem building skills. For more information on this class, including scheduling and pricing, parents should contact Lillian Cenatiempo, the Y’s dance center director, at 203-226-8981, ext. 197, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Private swim lessons are also offered. For more information, contact Aquatic Director Nicole Turechek at email@example.com.
George said the Y hopes to offer more special needs programs in the future at its new Machakeno facility, which is slated to open this fall.