As the parent of a young adult with physical disabilities, Christi Murn knows first-hand the frustrations faced by parents trying to find suitable exercise and physical recreation opportunities for their children with disabilities. As a Nonprofit Management Consultant, she knows all too well the challenges faced by those trying to provide them.
"By and large, there are no opportunities to participate in regular classes for recreation and fitness," she says. "Instructors aren’t comfortable with or knowledgeable enough to help modify activities — such as yoga or aerobics — to accommodate physical disabilities. Regular fitness machines that can accommodate physical disabilities are not available. And the adaptive equipment that is available is extremely expensive and, therefore, not an option."
Murn says fitness centers do not reach out to people with disabilities. Though she would love to be able to take her daughter to her own workout facility, she knows that the center would be afraid of potential liability. She also fears that, out of ignorance about how to work with her daughter, the staff might even ask her to do something that is unsafe. It leaves her daughter with few or no viable options for staying physically active.
“This is extremely limiting,” she laments. "Not only in terms of physical development; it also leaves a gaping hole with regard to the related social interactions that come with such activities."
The Ability Center, she says, would help fill that gap — in a big way.
"It would be a great place where we could exercise together, for both the physical and social aspects," she says. "People stare at people with disabilities; it becomes part of what you have to deal with on a regular basis. It would be nice to be able to come to a ‘stare-free zone’ such as The Ability Center would provide."