The Nantucket Fund™ benefits all of Nantucket. It reaches out across the Island and supports those most in need. Nantucket STAR is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing activities and therapies to children with special needs. Their mission is to provide specialized, therapeutic accessible recreation to children with a wide range of challenges and disabilities.
Today we highlight one of their specific programs made possible through a grant from the Nantucket Fund™awarded in December. Nantucket STAR’s CrossFit program is truly a great example of a Nantucket nonprofit filling the needs of our Island’s children.
This past month we made a trip to see these kids in action at a CrossFit session at Nantucket Cycling & Fitness. We were treated to an energetic hour of activities for a group of about 15 children, most with special needs together with some of their siblings.
The overall emphasis of this program is an introduction and continuation of life-long exercise and physical fitness. The therapeutic component emphasizes social skills, range of motion, small and gross motor skills, sequencing, and group dynamics.
“Cross Fit / STAR Fit is one of our family’s favorite programs!” My boys love the program because they get the chance to be active and play with their buddies. As a mom, I love this program on so many levels. More specifically, as a mom of a high needs child and a wild 5 year old, the 60 minutes of guilt-free childless time once a week is huge. Of course, that is not the only reason I love the class, but it sure is nice.
Wynter, my oldest, is on the autism spectrum and has challenges to overcome every day. I realize we all have challenges, but not all of us suffer from sensory overload, or low body tone, or misreading social cues and body language or struggle with transitioning from activity to activity. Like many with ASD, Wyn struggles with social cues and rules. “Typical” or “traditional” sports have not been an easy fit. He finds himself on the outside trying to get in, and when he can’t find the way, it can lead to a meltdown which only further isolates him from his team. In these arenas, Wyn often ends up in tears, which is compounded by a loss of self-esteem, which commonly results in coaches perceiving him and labeling him as uncooperative, disruptive, or difficult. The heartache I feel as I watch him try to fit his square soul into a round world can be unbearable, but pales in comparison to what he endures.
STAR Fit brings a love and joy of exercise through physical fitness together with a sense of belonging that Wynter may not otherwise be able to experience with typical or traditional sports. The STAR Fit program presents a magnificent chance to be part of a group and creates amazing opportunities to be “normal.” Through the STAR Fit program, Wynter experiences the comradery of being a contributing member of a team while under the guidance of many loving adults that are part of his daily scholastic and therapeutic life who already understand, know and love him. STAR Fit knows how to help push him to grow and be his best self while nurturing his need to be active through the use of his mind and his body. Wynter affectionately refers to this class as “yoga” and has been able to successfully apply the breathing and calming exercises taught in class throughout his regular school day to re-center himself when he feels overwhelmed.
Yes, this class gets parents a nice break on a weekend and yes, this class gets the kids moving and the opportunity to be physical in our “video game world”, but it is also providing much, much more. -Shawna Whitmore Larrabee
We love seeing our Nantucket Fund™ dollars at work and hearing how it directly benefits our Island’s children and families.
Want to help nonprofits like Nantucket STAR continue their important efforts for our Island?
Make a gift that benefits all of Nantucket today.