Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Disability Awareness

By Courtney Westlake


When the new recreation and athletic center at UIS opened last semester, it featured numerous state-of-the-art amenities, including a performance arena, fitness room, racquetball courts and tons of new exercise equipment, many pieces of which are handicap-accessible for students, staff and faculty with disabilities.

"TRAC has many different types of accessible fitness equipment for individuals with disabilities," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC. "There are hundreds of different disabilities, and if we're made aware of someone's needs, we can work with them to adapt our equipment for them."

One machine that can be accessible to people with different kinds of disabilities is the functional trainer. On the functional trainer, the attachments move to different levels, from the very bottom of the floor to the top of the machine, and can also move closer in to a person or farther away.

"We also have a cable crossover machine, resistance bands, dumbbells, and we have a line of equipment where the seat can be removed," Jillson said. "If a participant has difficulty using a piece of equipment then all they need to do is let me know and I can show them an alternative exercise that might be more suitable to their needs."

Staff members are available when the TRAC is open and are able to assist if someone should need help using the equipment, such as an attachment changed or an arm moved up and down on a certain piece of equipment, Jillson said.

If you need a "prescription," like knowing how much weight you should do or how to use a machine properly, that's where Jillson, who has a background in therapeutic recreation, comes in.

"So I encourage students, faculty and staff members to utilize my background," Jillson said. "Come and ask questions and set up an appointment with me, and I'll be able to create a workout for you that is catered to you and the health and fitness goals that you have."