Special-needs athletes reach elite status

Local high school hosts neurodivergent camp

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Inclusive Sports and Fitness (ISF), based in Holbrook, has been hosting a six-week summer camp program for students with special needs and neurotypical student-athlete mentors from surrounding high schools in Bayport-Blue Point, Sayville, and Connetquot school districts.

In total, there are approximately 120 mentors and 40 athletes, many of whom receive regular services at ISF’s state-of-the-art facility for the neurodivergent.

The summer camp is a free service that is three hours a day, four days a week for six weeks, between July and August.

Bayport-Blue Point schools provided the site for the summer camp, and BBP high school principal, Robert Haas, attended some of the events held by ISF.

“The Bayport-Blue Point School District has been a proud partner with ISF since the summer of 2014.  Over the years, the summer program has operated out of several buildings, including Academy Street, Blue Point Elementary, and the high school.  As a district, we are so proud of this partnership with ISF, as it not only provides a great experience for the athletes in our local area, but it allows for students of Bayport-Blue Point to serve as mentors to them,” said Haas, adding, “The development of the relationship between the mentors and the athletes has been amazing to see.  The athletes have benefited from the care and support provided by the mentors, while the mentors have learned so many life lessons from their athletes.”

BBP high school junior Zachary Teufel said, “To me, ISF has meant judgment-free opportunities for everyone to have fun. I have been able to experience firsthand different people from all walks of life come together to enjoy physical activities and making new friends, and I am looking forward to continuing the program.”

At ISF’s 6,000-square-foot facility, they use proprietary metric and performance tools to customize individual plans for neurodivergent students to accommodate their particular gait, alignment, and coordination issues.

“It is very much a physical, social, emotional, cognitive behavior profile to address a child’s needs holistically,” said Alex Lopez, a professor of occupational therapy at New York Institute of Technology, who is one of the leaders of ISF.

“We can assess needs of the full autism spectrum and determine how the brain responds when there is a misstep in synchronicity or rhythm in physical movement,” said Lopez.

While the ISF facility does not accept insurance, they charge a nominal fee of $25 per visit, similar to a co-pay.

During the camp and through the course of treatments at ISF over the year, one of the fastest runners in the program, clocking in with a 5.2-minute mile on a treadmill, has achieved up to 24 miles per hour in six- to 10-minute intervals.

“We can take average runners
and make them exceptional,” said Lopez. 

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