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Courtesy photo by Kelly Flaherty. Caitlin Deis teaches Tony the “Queen’s wave” to increase his flexibility

Thanks to a pair of grants obtained from the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan/Chelsea Community Foundation, the St. Louis Center is offering a new fitness program for area residents with special needs.

The St. Louis Center Community ‘Fitness for Life Program,’ works to improve the quality of life for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) by providing a “functional fitness training program” to increase the physical fitness level of residents.

This, in turn, increased their capacity to perform normal daily activities more safely and independently, according to a press release about the program.

The center, located in Sylvan Township, has been serving the needs of persons with IDD and their families for more than 52 years.

The new program will begin with an open house on Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 6 p.m., for parents and caregivers. The program is open to qualified residents of the “5 Healthy Towns Project,” which includes Chelsea, Dexter, Grass Lake, Manchester, and Stockbridge.

“The original idea was to focus on the functional fitness needs of the residents of St. Louis Center, but the need for this program among people with special needs in the 5 Healthy Towns is great,” said Development Director Peggy Cole in the press release.

“St. Louis Center has the capacity to offer these fitness and wellness opportunities to people with special needs who do not reside at St. Louis Center and we are grateful to Fitness for Life funders for supporting our efforts,” she said.

A ‘fitness baseline’ is developed for each person and a program is tailored to meet the needs of each. There has already been tremendous success with several of the St. Louis Center residents, who have lost as many as 15-20 pounds. One young man dropped 60 pounds through regular exercise and a change in diet, according to the press release.

The program will be offered in 6-week increments beginning on Monday, Oct. 1, with Beginner to Intermediate Level training on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6-7 p.m.

Intermediate to Advanced Level training will take place on Monday and Wednesday nights from 5-6 p.m.

Costs will be $10 for pre-screening, which will be applied to the program fee, and the program cost is $48 per person. The cost for both programs is $72 per person, and medical clearance from a physician will be required for all participants.

Photos courtesy by Kelly Flaherty. Caitlin Deis uses basketballs to increase arm strength.

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