Adults of all shapes, sizes, and abilities benefit from being physically active, including those with disabilities. Regular physical activity increases heart and lung function, which improves daily activities and increases independence. Activities and fitness programs specifically designed for adults with special needs and disabilities are available in most areas and can be extremely beneficial.
For adults with physical disabilities which prevent them from being able to participate in certain activities, local sports teams or programs that are accessible and inclusive, such as wheelchair sports or Special Olympics teams, can provide a safe way to be active. This not only improves the physical health and well-being of the individual but allows them opportunities to socialize and bond with others, which can have enormous mental and emotional health benefits.
If sports are not of interest, walking or wheeling oneself in a wheelchair, swimming, taking an adapted yoga class, or participating in another physical activity can also provide mental and physical health benefits. What a person is able to do and enjoys doing will vary, but the important thing is to avoid inactivity as this can lead to a multitude of unwanted health problems.
Of course, it is important for adults with disabilities to talk with their doctor or healthcare provider about how much physical activity is right for their specific needs and what types of exercise are best given their specific disability.
Below are some of the activities and fitness programs available for adults with special needs or disabilities in Chester County, organized by city:
Diverse Abilities Swimming at YMCA Jennnersville Branch – A fun, non-competitive aquatics program for individuals up to 21 years of age with developmental challenges. This program allows individuals to explore their abilities, develop skills, and find the confidence to pursue goals.
Devereux Pennsylvania Adult Services – Services offered include art instruction, music activities, an indoor aquatic therapeutic pool, and a performance center/gymnasium.
Diverse Abilities Swimming – Beginner at the YMCA Upper Main Line Branch – A fun, non-competitive aquatics program for children and adults with developmental challenges. This beginner class is geared for those with little experience or who are not comfortable in the water. Participants will explore abilities, develop skills and find the confidence to pursue goals. Skills and techniques covered include water safety, swim, float swim for five feet assisted or unassisted, back float, and submerge head under water.
Diverse Abilities Swimming – Intermediate/Advanced at the YMCA Upper Main Line Branch – A fun, non-competitive aquatics program for children and adults with developmental challenges. This intermediate/advanced class is geared for those who can swim independently. Participants will explore abilities, develop skills and find the confidence to pursue goals. Skills and techniques covered include water safety, swim, float swim for 15-25 yards unassisted, back float, backstroke, and treading water. Advanced swimmers will also learn breaststroke and butterfly.
Open Doors Bowling League at the YMCA Upper Main Line Branch – Individuals with special needs can spend the night bowling with friends. This league is for ages 15 and up.
Open Doors at the YMCA Upper Main Line Branch – Make new friends or have a great time socializing with old friends. Offered three Fridays a month, open doors include swimming, tennis, games or sports. One Friday each month is a field trip night.
Active Day of Exton – Staying active is one of the passions of Active Day. Their professional, certified Activities Managers enthusiastically support activity through specific programs that focus on members with memory impairments, adults with disabilities, and seniors. They have a wide variety of activities and outings designed to appeal to every type of member.
Brian’s House Adult Day Services – The Adult Day Services Program provides people with disabilities with meaningful daily activities that promote personal growth and help them develop daily living skills, build self-worth and offer opportunities for socialization.
Open Doors at the YMCA Lionville Branch – Open Doors offers fun-filled nights at the YMCA and out in the community. Friday nights are social opportunities for adults 18 years of age and older with diverse abilities to make new friends or have a great time socializing with old friends.
Camphill Soltane – Camphill Soltane has numerous art and craft offerings and has opened inclusive business operations, all while serving countless individuals with disabilities in residential, educational, and vocational capacities.
Parzival – Parzival focuses on providing supports in a healing, sustainable environment, dedicated to community building and social renewal, with an emphasis on each individual’s potential to contribute and to develop both through engagement with social enterprise as well as the arts and culture.
Active Day of Kennett Square – Staying active is one of the passions of Active Day. Their professional, certified Activities Managers enthusiastically support activity through specific programs that focus on members with memory impairments, adults with disabilities, and seniors. They have a wide variety of activities and outings designed to appeal to every type of member.
Assisted Senior Program at Kennet Area Senior Center – The Assisted Senior Program (ASP) offers socialization and meaningful activity for individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s-type memory impairment and/or mild mobility impairment, as well as much needed respite for their caregivers and families. The ASP program includes supervised social interaction, intellectual and physical activities, group games and travel, craft activities, music, inspirational activities, and intergenerational visits.
Diverse Abilities Swimming – Beginner at the YMCA Kennet Branch – A fun, non-competitive aquatics program for children and adults with developmental challenges. This beginner class is geared for those with little experience or who are not comfortable in the water. Participants will explore abilities, develop skills and find the confidence to pursue goals. Skills and techniques covered include water safety, swim, float swim for five feet assisted or unassisted, back float, and submerge head under water.
Reins of Life Therapeutic Riding – Reins of Life offers therapeutic horseback riding to children and young adults ages 2-25 with special needs such as autism, cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome, spina bifida, and developmental delays. Stretching mind and muscles, therapeutic horseback riding produces remarkable benefits and is recognized as one of the most progressive forms of therapy gaining recognition worldwide. The warmth and rhythmic movement of the horse provides numerous physical benefits.
Adult Training Program at the Royer-Greaves School for Blind – The Adult Training program offers modified team and individual sports, including swimming. Serves participants 21 years of age and up who have intellectual disabilities. Both sighted and visually impaired individuals may participate.
The Arc Chester County Recreation Program – The Arc’s recreation program helps people with disabilities have fun and be involved in the community while improving social skills. Activities include: overnight, weekend or week-long excursions to places like mountain resorts, the seashore, campgrounds or theme parks; day-trips to nearby cities, fairs and festivals and tourist attractions; group outings to sporting events, movies, concerts, or dinner theaters; outdoor experiences like camping, boating, hiking, ballgames, swimming or miniature golf; and weekly and monthly activity nights at The Arc, including games, dinners, crafts, and theme parties.
Adult Diverse Abilities Swimming at the YMCA West Chester Branch – A fun, non-competitive aquatics program for individuals 14 years of age and older. Participants will explore abilities, develop skills, and find the confidence to pursue goals.
Crossroads Recovery Center – Crossroads is a peer run center where individuals with mental health needs, substance abuse/addiction or homelessness gather in a safe, comfortable and supported environment. Individuals participate in social, recreational, and educational activities and a variety of support groups.
Diverse Abilities Gymnastics at the YMCA Oscar Lasko Branch – This program provides gymnastics instruction for individuals up to 18 years of age with developmental and/or orthopedic challenges. They have a low student/teacher ratio with a certified special education gymnastics coach.
Fitness for Diverse Abilities at the YMCA West Chester Branch – A non-competitive fitness program for teens and adults with special needs. This program is a fun way to socialize, stay active, and enjoy being part of a team. Through a safe and caring environment, we open doors to all possibilities.
Team River Runner Southeast Pennsylvania – Team River Runner (TRR) is a nationwide non-profit network of more than 50 chapters. We offer health and healing for military injured, active duty, veterans, first-responders and disabled members of our community through therapeutic kayaking.
Fitness for Diversabilities at the West Chester Area YMCA – This eight week long program enables those who need adapted programming to be successful in physical education. Benefits include promotion of an active lifestyle, development of skills for sports and life, enhancement of self-esteem and self-development, increased physical independence, and decreased health complications.
West Chester University Adapted Physical Activity Wednesday Night Program – The APA Wednesday Night Program has been a mainstay at West Chester University for 30 years. Individuals ages 5 to 21 with a variety of abilities are led by a PEID minor along with a volunteer. The program runs for 10 weeks in both the gym and pool. Weekly progress notes are written to the families. The Fall Semester focuses on adapted sports while the Spring Semester focuses on adapted physical education and adapted swimming.
West Chester University Adapted Lifetime Fitness Program – The goal of the Adapted Lifetime Fitness Program is to help adults with cognitive disabilities improve their cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and group comradery. PEID minors meet once a week with participants in the Sturzebecker Fitness Center. This program also has a nutrition component in which WCU nutrition majors and faculty develop nutrition education programming.
Other Nearby Activities:
Adaptive Yoga – Everyone is welcome to this class, where we make postures accessible, whether seated, standing or coming down to the floor. It is ideal for those seeking the physical and mental benefits of yoga who have limited mobility or balance as a result of the aging process, injury or other medical issues. We adapt postures using blocks, blankets, chairs and the wall; all to find the many benefits of the yoga practice – increased mental and physical strength, balance and flexibility; rhythm, an inward sense of direction and the ability to move through life in a more integrated way; the capacity to live more fully within the body; and an enhanced ability to manage stress.
Chair Yoga – Chair yoga is a gentle form of yoga that is practiced seated on a chair or standing using a chair for support. It is ideal for those seeking the physical and mental benefits of yoga who have limited mobility or balance as a result of the aging process, injury or other medical issues. Expect to experience the many benefits, including stress reduction, increased flexibility and strength, and cultivating the mind-body connection.
Carousel House Recreation Center – Carousel House, located at Belmont Avenue and Avenue of the Republic, is dedicated to providing socialization, recreational and educational services to persons with disabilities who reside throughout the Philadelphia area.
Wheelchair Racing – Magee sponsors members of the wheelchair racing community in local races including the Philadelphia Marathon, Rothman 8K and Broad Street Run. Participants can use a racing chair or hand cycle, depending on the race.
iCan Bike Camp – iCan Shine provides quality learning opportunities in recreational activities for individuals with disabilities. By creating an environment where each person is empowered to maximize their individual abilities, everyone can shine! Approximately 80% of the people who participate in our iCan Bike program learn to ride a conventional two-wheel bicycle by the end of the program.