YMCA, Quincy MA
Director Partnership Program
South Shore YMCA – Quincy MA
Partnership Program for Persons with Disabilities
The South Shore YMCA Partnership Program, established in 1991, is a post-rehabilitation, non-clinical program designed specifically for persons with disabilities who are interested in a structured exercise program. Our program includes access to RT300’s for FES cycling, for those with the appropriate medical prescription, and specifically serves individuals that need specialized, adaptive exercise equipment and/or one-on-one assistance.
Our volunteer training
partners assist participants with workouts designed to improve or maintain
physical ability to stay active in sports, recreation, or activities of daily
living. Whilst volunteers are
provided based on availability, participants are encouraged to provide their
own volunteer, usually a friend or family member.
The program is recreational in nature and whilst beneficial to participants, is not to be considered rehabilitation.
Someone once said “Exercise is for everybody, and every body” and I really believe that to be true and see our Partnership Program as making this a reality for people with a disability.
Whilst most of the program participants have a spinal cord injury, some are recovering from a stroke or are battling the effects of multiple sclerosis. The program is available within the standard price of Gym membership, although electrodes used with FES are the responsibility of participants.
RT300 FES Cycle
The specialized equipment used in our Partnership Program has included Functional electrical Stimulation (FES) since 1996 when we acquired a StimMaster FES Cycle. This was replaced by RT300 in 2006 once we realized the additional benefits the Restorative Therapies system offered, including motor assistance, absence of transfer, and automatic therapy progression making it ideal for a self managed program. We see FES cycling as an important part of the Partnership Program.
RT300 users love knowing that their muscles are working and gaining strength, and enjoy the cardio workout. They report reduced nerve pain after a session, reduced levels of spasticity and an improved mental attitude. They also say they love being in the same room as everyone else.
The Partnership Program is fully integrated with our other gym programs, allowing participants to work alongside able-bodied members. They find this very emotionally uplifting, and feel that they can still be part of the community despite their disability. Some workout at the same time as other family members or among groups of friends, others time their gym visits to network and stay connected with the community. Other able-bodied gym members report being motivated when seeing people with disabilities working out alongside them.
I would like to see other gyms follow our lead and provide opportunities for people with disabilities to be fully integrated into their membership, able to normalize their life within their community.
Sheryl is an exercise physiologist with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Performance and Fitness. She is passionate about the Partnership Program she leads and the role it plays in enhancing the lives of people with disabilities. Sheryl believes that allowing people with disabilities to be fully integrated into any gymnasium will improve the lives of everyone and enhance community life.