Bridgeway Academy has begun a new program called, BridgeFit! This new program was made possible because of a generous grant from Autism Speaks.
What is it?
BridgeFit is a personal fitness program that many of our middle school and high school students are participating in on a weekly basis. The physical therapy department at Bridgeway Academy began partnering with Peggy Mills, founder and owner of Valemee (formerly UFIT) in January of 2020. A pilot program began with 4 students, with the hopes of expanding services to all students in our middle school and high school programs. In July of this year, three staff members from our secondary program were trained and became certified instructors: Whitney Williams, PT, DPT (PT Department Manager), Leslie Murdock, MOT, OTR/L (Secondary OT Department Manager), and Emily Walker (Applied Program Transition Specialist). After a successful pilot program and thanks to the support of our funding partners, Autism Speaks, in July, Bridgeway Academy purchased the Valemee® Fitness Visual Training System and set up a permanent gym space in our new building at Alum Creek.
Who is using it?
Currently all middle and high school classrooms in the Academic Program and several classrooms from the Applied Program are participating 1x/week for 30 minutes. The goal is to expand this to ALL middle and high school students and classrooms in some capacity by January 2021. The program is also being used by several therapy only clients in a 1:1 capacity with their therapists.
How does it work?
Each student builds his or her own visual schedule from a large white board that contains pictures of several different options. They choose from 1 of 4 cardio exercises (Treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, or arm bike) and then 3-4 strength training exercises. These exercises rotate every 1-2 weeks, so they are always able to learn and explore new types of exercises with different equipment. They spend half of their session on a cardio machine and half of their session on the floor doing strength training. Staff members are there to provide demonstrations, help with selecting exercises, etc.
The goals of the program are as follows:
- To expose students to a gym setting and exercise equipment in a safe and supportive environment.
- To help students learn new exercises with proper body mechanics and form.
- To promote lifelong fitness and making healthy choices.
- To teach students strategies to self monitor and reflect on their effort and adjust their participation levels accordingly.