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New Community Collaboration Gives Free Fitness to COVID-19’s Most Vulnerable


Monday, July 20, 2020

In the pre-pandemic world, millions of people gathered together engaging in exercise and physical activity, strengthening muscles and bones, and improving respiratory and cardiovascular health.

Suddenly, that all changed as COVID-19 entered the scene. For one particular group in our community, health restrictions abruptly went into place confining these people with special needs to their home since March with extremely limited interaction with family, friends, and therapeutic recreation.

In a new partnership between the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association (FVSRA) and Association for Individual Development (AID), over 100 individuals with disabilities are now getting a boost to their physical health and social well-being this summer.

FVSRA recognized the need for participants to get active, stay safely connected, and transition from a very sedentary lifestyle into free fitness programs taught by certified therapeutic recreation specialists employed by FVSRA.

“It is in a time of crisis when we are resilient, focusing on what we do best, supporting those in need,” said FVSRA’s Executive Director, Alex Engelhardt. “When participants are unable to come to us, we are determined to bring our programs to them.”

Over 90 program hours will be provided during the next several weeks throughout the Fox Valley to 30 of AID’s group homes where disabilities range from autism to cerebral palsy. The curriculum serves all ability levels and allows for adaptations to be made for those who need modifications.

“AID is grateful for the sustained partnership with FVSRA and the outpouring of support we’ve received during challenging times. The individuals are enjoying seeing their favorite program staff again while keeping their bodies healthy,” said Samantha Lewis, Director of Community Living and Community Day Services-South Region for AID. “We can’t wait to keep collaborating with FVSRA to restore recreation as we move through this and any future challenges.”


It is vital to those with special needs to have organizations collaborating to enrich the lifestyles and improve the health of one of the most vulnerable populations affected by COVID-19.


“When we reflect back on this pandemic, I want to be proud of what FVSRA was able to accomplish. Increasing collaboration efforts with our partners means giving people with special needs in our community even more opportunities to succeed,” said Engelhardt.

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