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Group to host workout for disabled teens

By Debbie Gardner, Assistant Managing Editor
GREATER SPRINGFIELD — Making Healthy Connections, a non-profit program designed to help teens with disabilities and special needs prepare for adult life, will host a workout and stretch activity, led by Krystal Say, owner of Bia Fitness of East Longmeadow, on Jan. 29 at the Greek Cultural Center, 8 Plainfield St. in Springfield.
Scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m., this activity is open to regular members of the group, their parents and caregivers, as well as individuals and families interested in finding out more about Making Healthy Connections and its programs.
Parent coordinator Kelly Phillips told Reminder Publications the group is promoting this meeting in an effort to reach out to disabled teens and their families who may not be aware this kind of support exists locally.
"We are really doing great things," Phillips said, adding that the focus of Making Healthy Connections is on "self advocacy and health and wellness" for the teens.
Among the topics discussed by the group at their bi-monthly meetings are how teens can talk with their doctor, sexuality, housing issues and more.
"These are big, important topics [that we] cover with teens and their parents," Phillips said, adding that the group's emphasis is on "education, advocacy, social opportunities and fitness and wellness activities for disabled youth and their parents and guardians."
At the Jan. 29 meeting, Phillips said Say, a health fitness science personal coach with a BS in health fitness, would be leading two different programs, one for the teens and another for the parents in the support group.
"It's quite a challenge, but she's up for [it]," said Phillips, who, along with her daughter Sarah, a cystic fibrosis patient, has been working out with Say for several years. "Krystal's job will be to provide an exercise opportunity for people of all ability levels."
Phillips is excited to share Say's expertise with the members of Making Healthy Connections because she has seen her workout advice make such positive changes in her daughter's life.
"She has made strides in movement and self-confidence," Phillips said of Sarah's workout experience with Say. "[Especially] in her balance and coordination and her ability to carry herself."
Making Healthy Connections is the local affiliate of Partners For Youth With Disabilities (PYD), a statewide nonprofit advocacy group based in Boston. Phillips said there is a membership fee to join the Western Massachusetts group, but that it is takes into account member's economic situations.
"It's on a sliding scale," she said. "If people have issues we don't want to scare them away. We have teens who come on their own,. we don't want to shut the door on anybody."
For more information on the upcoming meeting of Making Healthy Connections, email Phillips at phillipsgirls3@yahoo.com. For more information about PYD, visit www.pyd.org. Information about Making Healthy Connections is also available on the PYD Web site.

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