noticed that not all gyms/fitness classes are inclusive. Our classes include a social component that makes it more than just a fitness class.” All Abilities classes incorporate social skills such as turn-taking, partnering with other athletes, and general communication. Many athletes enjoy and appreciate the group conversations and friendships formed during the classes. Lastly, all sessions end with a fun group activity to conclude positively. Whitni Allen and Chase Livingston bring experience and passion to All Abilities. Allen, a certified fitness and nutrition specialist, is a personal trainer and adaptive special needs instructor focused on individuals with autism and other special needs. Livingston is a certified personal trainer, behavioral change specialist, and certified nutrition coach. “We accommodate a wide variety of challenges, including Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and stroke recovery,” Allen stated. Allen and Livingston tailor workouts for individuals’ needs to boost confidence, independence, and socialization in an accessible and safe environment. With a similar mission of providing physical fitness opportunities to all, TOPSoccer is a soccer program for kids with intellectual or physical disabilities, ages 5-19. With TOP standing for The Outreach Program, TOPSoccer is a nationwide program formed under US Soccer. TOPSoccer Texarkana is led by local soccer enthusiast and former Texas High Girls Soccer Coach Hillary Cloud. TOPSoccer was formed to perpetuate the US Youth Soccer mission statement, which is, in part, “to foster the physical, mental and emotional growth and development of America’s youth through the sport of soccer at all levels of age and competition. “My mission for TOPSoccer Texarkana is to make the beautiful game accessible for children with diverse abilities,” Cloud said. “I volunteered for this program as a college athlete in Mississippi,” Cloud continued. “There were hundreds of kids involved. The kids didn’t have the same opportunity to join a soccer league as kids without disabilities. It’s an incredible experience being able to normalize that for them.”
Whitni Allen coaches an All Abilities athlete during a workout class at the Southwest Center.
SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT
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