Group Gives New Canaan Y Help With Special-Needs Participants

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The New Canaan YMCA will be increasing its special needs programming thanks to a partnership with the National Inclusive Project.
The New Canaan YMCA will be increasing its special needs programming thanks to a partnership with the National Inclusive Project. Photo Credit: Anthony Buzzeo

NEW CANAAN, Conn. — New Canaan’s YMCA has partnered with the National Inclusion Project as part of its Special Needs Initiative.

“We feel that working with the New Canaan YMCA will help us further our mission to open doors in communities nationwide for children with disabilities to experience everything life has to offer,” Jerry Aiken, executive director of the National Inclusion Project, said in a news release.

The partnership included a four-hour training session for staff members of the YMCA with members of the project. The training included information and exercises to help the staff best interact with and support people of all abilities, the release said.

“The inclusive attitude was already present among our other staff, and this training provided tools for all staff to be confident in serving all people—from interacting with members to the planning process for programs,” said Carolynn Kaufman, the Y's director of Special Needs Programming.

“The Y recognizes that inclusion goes beyond the classroom.  It is a value that parallels and complements our core values.  It is important for our entire organization to understand,” Mary Coleman, assistant director of Membership Operations & Communications, said in the release. She was one of the participants in the training.

The New Canaan YMCA serves more than 100 people with special needs either through programs designed for them or with aides to help them participate in traditional programming, the release said. There is a 1 to 1 ratio of aides to participant.

The National Inclusion Project, co-founded in 2003 by former "American Ido"l contestant Clay Aiken, works to bridge the gap between young people with disabilities and others around them by having them participate in programs together, the release said.

For more information about the Special Needs Department at the YMCA or the inclusion project contact Kaufman by email or phone, 203-966-4528 ext. 156.

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"former "American Idol contestant" Really?

Clay Aiken is much more than an American Idol star. He is a Broadway veteran having starred in Spamalot, twice, and playing "Man In Chair" in The Drowsy Chaperone in the NC Theater Production and is currently playing Joseph in The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He is the winner of an American Music Award, 4 Billboard Music Awards and heads his own foundation "The National Inclusion Project, that serves to integrate children with disabilities into programs alongside children without disabilities. He is also veteran of TVtalk shows and sit coms, was runner up on Celebrity Apprentice last year, is a NY Times Bestselling author, a UNICEF Ambassador, a multi-platinum recording artist and a successful international touring artist.