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YMCA of Delaware installs harnesses to help members with disabilities exercise


Terri Hancharick wants to make life better for people with disabilities. And that’s because of her daughter Brigitte, who has cerebral palsy.

“Brigitte spends all of her days in the community. She lives at home, she has friends, she attends social events, volunteers in her community and thoroughly enjoys her life. But she has no way to work out. We know what a sedentary lifestyle will do to someone," said Hancharick.

Hancharick directs disability advocacy organization, EPIC, which stands for Endless Possibilities In the Community. Last fall, she wrote to the YMCA, saying that their physical activity facilities need to be more inclusive of people like Brigitte.

At first, the request seemed impossible to fulfill. But in the last year, the YMCA of Delaware began working with University of Delaware’s physical therapy program and Enliten, a Newark-based company that builds harnesses. Now, two of Enliten’s harnesses are installed at the Bear-Glasgow YMCA, over a set of treadmills and in the group exercise room.


As Hancharick noted, people with disabilities often encounter challenges when it comes to getting proper exercise. In a report released last year, the Centers for Disease Control notes that nearly half of all adults with disabilities get no aerobic physical activity.

Jim Kelly, Chief Officer of Operations at the YMCA of Delaware, hopes that they can get to a point where the harnesses will allow people to exercise on their own.

“The idea would be that anyone could come into the building and say, ‘I want to take a zumba class, but I have a balance issue.’ Then we can hook you up and you’re all set to go," said Kelly.


If this pilot program succeeds at Bear-Glasgow, Kelly would like to see these harnesses installed at all of Delaware’s YMCA locations.


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