Special Needs People Get a Workout - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/6/04 - Tyler

Special Needs People Get a Workout

Half of the special needs people at the Association for Retarded Citizens (The Arc) say they've never lifted weights before. All of them do manual labor, including maintenance work and street cleanup.

"I lift up heavy bags with heavy trash and pick up cans," Brenda Oldham, special needs adult, said.

Brenda says her entire work day is a workout, but she and her husband, Gary, who is a janitor, say they want to get stronger to help them do their jobs. They're getting their first weightlifting lesson along with several other special needs people at The Arc.

"I like it," Gary said.

The Arc's executive director, Jacque Fowler, says many special needs people tend to be overweight.

"Oftentimes people with developmental disabilities are awkward with their motions, their movement, their bodies. They have poor eye-hand coordination, have poor gross and fine motor skills, and so forth," Fowler said.

So The Arc brought in Paul Hildreth, a personal trainer with the Woodcreek Athletic Club in Tyler. He's volunteering his time to teach the group some basic weight training. And Woodcreek donated an entire set of used free weights.

"We're all different individuals, and they're just nothing more than individuals that need just a little bit of extra help," Hildreth said.

"I think it's great that he's coming out and helping us," Brenda said.

And the Oldhams have their own goals.

"I need to lose weight bad," Brenda said. "Be stronger."

"I'd like to lose it in my belly," Gary said.

"He's going to make that fun so they can't wait to come back every week to do this," Fowler said of Hildreth.

The new weightlifting students say they'll practice every week the routine Hildreth teaches them each month. The special needs group at The Arc were so excited today at their first lesson that they gave their group a name: "The Gym Dandies."

Julie Tam, reporting.

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