With private gyms and workout facilities seemingly everywhere you turn, it suggests access to a physical fitness routine is an option for everyone in the Fox Valley region.
One group not fitting that description got the opportunity to take part in regular weekly workouts through the Friday Night Fun Club, a program on the YMCA Fox Cities in Neenah and Menasha. A $1,000 grant from the SAC Sheltered Activities Fund within the Community Foundation allowed special needs children ages 7-13 to get in their weekly workout without their parents present. The classes had a 1:4 instructor to student ratio and all three sessions of eight or nine slots offered were full with waiting lists.
The pilot program ended in May. Based on feedback, Friday Night Fun Club turned into a morning session of Saturday Fun Club from 9-10:15 a.m., improving the participants’ availability and energy level. The program is offered only at the Neenah-Menasha YMCA, but Paula Gozner, who coordinates Fun Club, said the Y has the expertise and the space to offer it at all five Fox Cities YMCA locations. All it lacks is the money to pay for the extra sessions.
It started with a parent’s suggestion but Gozner has fully embraced it. “This is my passion,” she said.
“We learned that there is a need for these kids to get out and be part of a fun group, and that exercise is an area that is lacking in their lives,” Susan Hildebrandt, YMCA health and fitness director, said.
One couple said that in addition to exercise, the class gave their son the opportunity to meet new friends. “The diverse group of kids bonded quickly as a result of well-planned group activities and the staff was attentive and very accommodating of individual needs,” they wrote.