Exciting things are happening at SDSU’s Adaptive Fitness Clinic (AFC). Since Program Director, Matt Soto, took over in the Fall of 2015, overhauls to the curriculum, website and staff direction, as well as name and logo have brought the Clinic to the forefront of the Aztec Experience. However, success has come with a price. Due to facility constraints, the wait list of potential clients has grown from two to sixty two people in the last year and the AFC has had to come up with creative solutions to serve their population in need.
The AFC provides safe and affordable access to fitness for real clients in the San Diego community with neuromuscular, cognitive, and other physical disabilities, all while training future kinesiology practitioners by educating and, subsequently, overseeing them lead their clients through a semester of exercise. The students, with staff guidance, progress and motivate their clients through their rehabilitation and wellness goals, empowering both student and client in the process.
With a growing number of kinesiology students being admitted to SDSU and the huge need in the community, it’s imperative for organizations like the Clinic to prioritize new options. Enter the creative thinking of Matt Soto and the AFC.
“An Arc [Arc of San Diego] representative reached out to me for some guidance and help developing a Fitness Program for one of their facilities,” said Soto on how a new partnership formed. “We are in need of additional space for our students and clients, so I decided to discuss the possibility of bringing our experience and program to them and collaborating.” Several months after this interaction, the Clinic has now opened up a pilot program at the Arc’s North Shores Vocational Center location, off of Aero Drive. The collaboration includes AFC clients and students utilizing the Arc facility twice a week.
The Arc of San Diego’s mission is to support and empower persons with disabilities to achieve their life goals. The Arc “serves over 2,500 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome each year,” says Joseph Tontodonato, Director of Operations, Community Living Services at the Arc and the AFC’s main contact. “As Our Place Yoga & Wellness Center expands both in services provided and individuals served, we see SDSU AFC clients, staff, and students working together with The Arc’s clients, staff, students, and volunteers to create and sustain a one-of-a-kind, comprehensive wellness program.”
According to Soto, this new location, “allows us to potentially begin to reduce numbers on the [client] wait list. Students now have an additional site to enroll and hopefully not be wait listed due to limited seats in main site…Students also get to use different equipment and see an organization like the Arc from the inside and get to know the population they serve.”
Francisco Gonzalez, AFC intern and full-time student enjoys his time helping to manage the new site. “My favorite part about being over there is that the clients are open minded and willing to try new things with the different equipment. And how spread out everything is. The equipment is versatile and we’re still able to plan a balanced workout.”
When asked about future plans and where this pilot could lead, Soto has high hopes. “[The] ultimate goal would be establishing a long term partnership to develop and build out a North-shore site and potentially have Arc/SDSU Adaptive Fitness programs throughout San Diego region (utilizing their existing facilities).” Essentially, opening up more facilities means more opportunity for students to learn and greater possibilities for rehabilitating individuals to get the help they need.