BY BTL STAFF
FERNDALE – Physical fitness is a challenge for everyone, but it’s especially true for special needs children and young adults whose disabilities are not only mentally challenging, but physically challenging as well. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children with disabilities are 38 percent more likely to be obese than their counterparts.
The problems and challenges start early.
“About 12 percent of babies born every year are at risk for being overweight and obese before their second birthday. With all of our early intervention over the last 20 years, involving Down Syndrome especially, we’ve learned how to produce a more physically active baby with Down Syndrome that improves their health and functioning,” said Dr. Dale Ulrich, director of the Center on Physical Activity and Health in Pediatric Disabilities at the University of Michigan.
Many children with special needs lead sedentary lifestyles driven by a lack of social and recreational opportunities, as well as low motivation to be physically active. The lack of motivation only gets worse as they reach adulthood. While the mainstream population can decide on its own whether to pursue a healthy lifestyle, individuals with special needs are often unable to make that sort of choice. Hence the low fitness levels and the high incidence of obesity, which in many cases leads to other major health issues that can largely be prevented.
In Oakland County alone there are an estimated 20,000 families with a special needs family member, according to government statistics. Consequently, the need for fitness options for the special needs community is much needed.
Enter the newly opened GUTS Training Center (ground up training system), the state’s only year-round facility primarily dedicated to helping children and adults with special needs get physically fit and maximize their health for a lifetime. The center opened in August of this year. Operated by brothers Todd and Paul Turner, the new facility offers classes and programs for individuals with special needs such as martial arts, Zumba, yoga, soccer, dance and one-on-one training, and with its 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm, Team GUTS, lower-income families can qualify for scholarships to participate.
Todd Turner, whose own 7-year-old daughter has a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and autism, points out that fitness is really a year-round activity.
“While many organizations offer programs on a periodic basis, GUTS Training Center has offerings year-round,” Turner said. “We’re very encouraged by the response of those who have taken advantage of the facility so far, and encourage anyone with a family member with special needs to learn more about the advantages of helping their loved ones get physically fit and enjoy healthier, more productive lives.”
The GUTS Training Center is located at 1008 Orchard St. in Ferndale. Phone is 855-998-GUTS. Find out more information at http://www.TeamGUTSMichigan.com.