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Open Gym program provides an opportunity for everyBODY to play together, Wauwatosa School District leads the way

PNC BANK AND THE DICK’S SPORTING GOODS FOUNDATION TEAM UP WITH THE ABILITY CENTER TO SUPPORT COUNTRY'S MOST INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY RECREATION

The Ability Center announces a commitment from PNC Bank and DICK’S Sporting Goods to support Open Gym, an adaptive program to encourage good health and wellness and to reinvent how people play together. As Proud Partners, PNC Bank and DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation’s support will help fund opportunities for participants to engage in indoor and outdoor activities and games like wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, goal ball and tennis.

"Have you ever worked with another organization that just feels like a natural fit right out of the gate? Well this partnership is one of those. The Ability Center and Wauwatosa Recreation Department is a dynamite combination for offering outstanding programming for all in our community. I am beyond excited for the future of this partnership,” Matthew Vanderkamp, CPRP, Director of Recreation, Wauwatosa School District.

“Open Gym provides an atmosphere where all can feel welcome, wanted and comfortable. Disability or not, Open Gym invites everybody to play together in an inclusive, non-competitive, friendly environment where friends, family and peers can play together in a ’Different Pair of Shoes,’ ” said Damian Buchman, founder and executive director of The Ability Center.

Since 2009, The Ability Center has fostered opportunities to provide people impacted with disabilities with a daily opportunity to be fit, active, healthy and to play, while also being inclusive to the able-bodied public. Wauwatosa School District was the first Open Gym location to come on board, setting the precedent for inclusion of adaptive athletics in the area.

“The Open Gym program aligns with PNC’s ‘Commit 2 Be Fit’ initiative which helps encourage communities and families to come together and promote good health and wellness. We’re excited that our support will also create intentional connection points for our employees and their families to become involved, volunteer and inspire inclusive engagement,” said Chris Hermann, PNC regional president for Wisconsin.

"The Ability Center has transformed my daughter’s mental and physical health. What we were going through the last four years was just heart wrenching, having a child with a chronic illness is hard. There is just so much darkness,” says Stephanie S., mother of an Open Gym participant. “She got in that gym and immediately felt at home. There was encouragement, positivity,

and a way of having the feeling of normal, of who she was her whole life, her love of sports, her competitive nature, it was still a possibility.”

Open Gym runs year round with indoor and outdoor locations. Open Gym location partners are Whitman and Longfellow Middle Schools in Wauwatosa, Rite-Hite Family YMCA in Brown Deer, United Community Center in Walker’s Point Milwaukee, the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay and Pius XI Catholic High School in Milwaukee. More information and full schedule available at tacwi.org/open-gym/.