Making Fitness More Inclusive
In January 2022, the JCC Center for Inclusion and Special Needs (CISN) partnered with Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin Family Services, Inc. (DSAW) to launch Wellness 360. This group wellness class for individuals with diverse abilities creates a space for them to learn about the importance of mind and body health.
“We wanted to provide a program to give individuals on the Northshore a place to come and build community while engaging with peers through social, recreational, educational, and Judaic programming,” says JCC Special Needs Coordinator Sarah McCutcheon. “Partnering with DSAW helps our mission of building a stronger Milwaukee.”
Wellness 360 participants come to the JCC on Tuesdays and Thursdays where they utilize the Habush Family Fitness Floor and other JCC exercise spaces twice a day. “This program offers a little bit of everything,” says DSAW Program Coordinator Jolene Deppiesse, “from learning about different types of exercise to healthy foods and setting goals to centering our minds with yoga.”
During their workout time, participants can choose up to three exercises, ranging from cardio to weightlifting. They also participate in regular yoga classes, where they focus on centering their minds, and navigating and understanding all types of emotions while exploring ways to reduce feelings of nervousness and frustration.
“Everybody at the JCC has been great,” says Deppiesse. “All staff and JCC members have been really helpful and kind when we’re on the fitness floor. Joe at the Peck Desk knows everyone by name, and the participants love seeing him every time we come.”
Jack Chevremont, who began working with many of the participants when he was a JCC employee and is now a DSAW staff member, echoes Deppiesse’s sentiments. “It makes me incredibly happy that our individuals with disabilities can call the JCC home,” he says.
The disability community of the Northshore has long been underserved, with very few program options available to families. Deppiesse also works with students at Nicolet High School and says she’s seen more families coming to the JCC for CISN programming. “We just refer families back and forth, so now we’re just merging into one large program to better serve them,” says Deppiesse.
CISN and DSAW look forward to offering a 5-day per week program for Northshore families that focuses on recreational programming. With this combined expansion effort, the program will be able to accept more participants and ultimately continue serving families in the community in meaningful ways. Contact Sarah McCutcheon, at 414-967-8198, to learn more about how you can get involved.
Click here to read more stories of impact from the 2021-22 Annual Report.