On Tuesday, July 12, children with disabilities in the No Limits Kids Fitness program experienced the freedom of biking in a special event using adapted bikes on loan from Project Mobility in St. Charles, Illinois. The theme for the day was “Iron Kids.”
No Limits Kids Fitness is a summer program that is hosted by Adapted Fitness in the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology that empowers children with disabilities to engage in physical activity. Over six weeks, children enrolled in the program participate in a variety of age-appropriate physical activities tailored to their abilities and interests, working closely with UW–Madison student volunteers.
Because of the pandemic, this is the first time in three years the program has taken place. A racially diverse group of 10 children ages 4-17 from across Dane County are participating this summer, half of whom are Spanish speaking and have been paired with Spanish-speaking student volunteers. The children were referred by healthcare and community partners, including for the first time this year Padres e Hijos en Accion, an organization that works specifically with Latino children with disabilities and their family members.
Kecia Doyle is the interim director of the program, which was founded by Tim Gattenby who retired in 2021. She notes that cross-campus collaboration has been essential to making this year’s program possible. “It takes a village,” she says.
In particular, the Office of Youth Protection, Transportation Services, and Allen Centennial Gardens “went out of their way to help us,” she says. In addition, the Department of Kinesiology and many UW–Madison faculty and staff have contributed their time, expertise, space, and equipment — even their parking spaces — to making the program a success.
Donor support has also been critical, including from Vince and Sarah Biegel through the “My Shoes, My Cause” campaign, which has enabled the program to purchase necessary supplies.
“In the No Limits Kids Fitness program, we focus on helping kids with diverse abilities build their motor skills through an emphasis on fitness and fun activities,” says Doyle. “But the best thing to come out of it for everyone involved — from the kids, to the student volunteers, to the parents — is the joy of seeing the kids develop greater independence and increased confidence, all while feeling accepted and included.”