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Y expands adaptive program

Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Arianna Aires, 12, of Ford City, works her way through the obstacle tunnel during the Adaptive Gym Program offered at the Richard G. Snyder YMCA in Kittanning. Tuesday October 29, 2013

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Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 1:31 a.m.

KITTANNING — Kylie Zurn, 10, of Kittanning looks forward to every Tuesday and Thursday.

That's when she gets to take part in the Richard G. Snyder YMCA's Adaptive Gym and Swim program.

“She loves it,” said Amber Zurn, Kylie's mother. “She looks forward to it and she'll ask, ‘Are we going to the Y tonight?' ”

The program is structured to meet the needs of children, ranging in age from 6 to 13, who have intellectual disabilities.

And now, thanks to a grant from the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust, the Y is able to expand the program to include 12 openings a month and offer free class membership to 100 eligible participants.

Robert Law, program director, said the class usually has about eight participants. But with 100 awards available for youths with intellectual disabilities, it's important to get the word out to area families, he said.

“This is here, come use it,” said Law, as he gestured toward the colorful obstacle course set up for Tuesday's adaptive gym class.

He said the grant has helped fund about $1,000 worth of equipment.

Every class is different, Law said. During the gym component on Tuesday, participants practiced their numbers and colors in a sensory way while going through a course designed to help improve balance and coordination.

Law said the gym portion is offered from 5 to 5:45 p.m., followed by an adaptive swim class from 6 to 6:45 p.m. Participants can choose to attend either the gym or swim components of the program or they can do both.

Amber Zurn said the program has been good for Kylie.

“Even though it's not considered occupational therapy, it's probably the best occupational therapy she's had,” Amber Zurn said.

“The kids are all good for each other,” she said, adding that the parents of participants have become friends and found support with each other.

Arianna Aires, 12, of Ford City smiled as she crawled through a tunnel in the gymnasium.

Her father, Joe Aires, said he joined the Y because of the adaptive program.

“She (Arianna) loves it all. This is her thing,” he said, noting that the social aspect of the program is an important factor.

The program, which started about two years ago at the former Y location, provides an organized recreation that helps build skills in team building, fitness and aquatic levels.

According to a release from the YMCA, CEO Joely Beeker said, “Children who participate (in the adaptive program) show an increased willingness to try new tasks. This program is fun and allows participants to forget they are working.”

Those wishing to sign up for the Edith Trees Adaptive Gym and Swim Award are asked to call 724-545-9622.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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