A FIT KID (AFK) is a program that aims to unite kids with and without disabilities to work together towards a common goal of becoming fit and having fun. AFK is a program produced by Helping Kids Together (HKT), a social project focusing on promoting inclusion and diversity through the arts, culture and active living. I believe the social and societal benefits of diversity and equality which AFK promotes extend far beyond the physical benefits of exercise alone. This is what initially attracted me towards the program a year ago. This past fall semester, our team worked to improve AFK by incorporating the "I Can Do It, You Can Do It" program developed by the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition. Primarily, this meant recruiting Saint Louis University (SLU) Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training students to become involved as mentors. The individual attention each participant received as a result made a huge difference in terms of making each kid feel equally capable and involved. We now consider SLU student involvement essential to the success of AFK. We recently applied for and were approved a grant from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition to help fund and expand our program. We plan on opening a new site in Sunset Hills during the spring semester of 2015. A FIT KID is truly a unique program that is needed in today's society. I encourage anyone interested to visit the website (www.afitkid.com) and to contact me (email@example.com) about getting involved.
- Aaron Perez (DPT Class of 2015)
What AFK means for me is a chance for my daughter to get to work out and be involved with other kids, both kids her own age that she can relate to and kids who are older than her that she can look up to--the college kids--and know she is not being singled out or made to feel different because she uses a walker. The whole scene is so good for her. The interaction gives her confidence and drive and she looks forward to it. The one on one mentoring aspect we have implemented into the program makes all the difference in the world between her being treated like a kid versus being treated like a person with a disability. It is what I have wanted for her for a long time and we finally have it. Thank you to Saint Louis University's Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training for helping us make this a reality!!! You guys ROCK.
A FIT KID was just awarded a $4400 grant to produce two waves of our program because we are Advocates of I Can Do It, You Can Do It (ICDI), which is an initiative of The President’s Council on Fitness Sports and Nutrition that focuses on making sure people with disabilities have equal access to fitness and nutrition based activities. We are 1 of only 20 organizations in the United States who were awarded with this grant. At this point in time there are only 55 registered ICDI Advocates in the country so we are really excited about the opportunity and thrilled to have the backup support to produce all of this with the assistance of Saint Louis University''s Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training. We couldn't do it without you guys.
Before this last session, there were SLU students involved but the most we had helping at one time were two students a session and most of the time it was only one and each kid did not have equal attention. This last round implementing the ICDI ideal of one mentor per student really put all the kids on an even playing field. One important thing to note is that the parents who had kids without disabilities participating in AFK were saying their kids were feeling left out when the assistants were helping the kids with disabilities. This right there stresses the importance of equal attention for all.
Prior to this round we have had Caitlin Hayes, Erin Eastman, Emily Grace, Heather Koch, Dan Wrozeski and Aaron Perez. Emily Grace and Heather Koch had helped us with a live demo we did at a health fair. Erin, Dan and Aaron all helped out as our one mentor for previous sessions. Thanks to all of the other SLU students who have helped: Aaron Perez, Caitlin Gibson, Phil Soncasi, Annalise Rolfes, Sierra Bugno, Anna DiStaulo, Sarah Mass, Brianna LaBarbera, Jaime Brew, Melissa Watts, and Mike Shay.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!
- Amy Barnes and her daughter Mia Maksimowicz, Founders of HKT