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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

City Park Rec Center helps special needs class dance, swim and Zumba

City Park Rec Center helps special needs class dance, swim and Zumba

High school should prepare you for the rest of your life. For one class at Westminster High School, they take it heart. Taught by Special Education Teacher Courtney Risinger, the Independent Living Class prepares 12 special needs students for life and the City Park Recreation Center helped out this spring with some fun activities.

“The Independent Living Class is designed to show the students that they can go into the community and be a part of it,” said Risinger. “We wanted to get them to City Park Recreation Center to help them feel more comfortable being there.”

The students visited the recreation center three times this spring free of charge to play basketball and racquetball, take a Zumba class, go swimming and scale the rock climbing wall.

“In the Parks, Recreation and Libraries Department, part of our mission is to create wellness in our community and providing these activities to the class makes that happen,” said Recreation Programs Superintendent Barbara Giedraitis.

The class helps the students be more active in their community and do physical activities both self-directed and taught by an instructor, like the Zumba class.

The students can take the Independent Living Class each of the four years of high school, if they want.

“We’ve also been to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Flatirons mall and a coffee shop that has employees on the autism spectrum,” said Risinger. “The kids have become more confident throughout the semester. One student started shopping for food and cooking in February and is a fabulous chef now!”

Risinger connected with the city through Parks, Recreation and Libraries Director Jason Genck. She asked if her class could participate in activities at a recreation center to help the students build confidence and city staff was very helpful setting up the logistics.

“By offering these opportunities to the class, we’re reaching out to those in the community we may not otherwise be able to reach, so we’re so happy to give these experiences,” said Giedraitis.

“The students love to dance, so the Zumba class was amazing!” said Risinger. “We’re so thankful to the city to help us be more involved in our community. My students know that there are many doors open to them in Westminster.”

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