A unique partnership offers support

Through a partnership with the Emma B. Howe Northtown Family YMCA in Coon Rapids, Rise, Inc. participants with disabilities have new opportunities as they face aging and retirement.

Rise, Inc. Activities Specialist Paul Herfindahl (right) leads a walking group of Rise participants at the Emma B. Howe Northtown Family YMCA in Coon Rapids. Through a partnership between Rise, Inc. and the YMCA, participants can take part in programs and activities at the YMCA. Photo by Bethany Kemming

Rise, Inc. Activities Specialist Paul Herfindahl (right) leads a walking group of Rise participants at the Emma B. Howe Northtown Family YMCA in Coon Rapids. Through a partnership between Rise, Inc. and the YMCA, participants can take part in programs and activities at the YMCA. Photo by Bethany Kemming

Community Integration Program (CIP) Coon Rapids Rise, Inc. participants can now take part in programs and activities at the YMCA along with or instead of their regular employment.

Rise, Inc. Director of Public Relations Beth DePoint said the partnership came about as Rise examined the needs of its aging population.

“We realized that as they age… their needs and their interests change, and we wanted to address the stage of life that they’re in now. Not everyone wants to work,” she said.

Rise, Inc. Vice President Lynn Noren and Emma B. Howe YMCA Group Vice President Chad Lanners started working together three years ago to figure out how to use the YMCA’s resources to support Rise’s aging population.

DePoint said the partnership allows Rise, Inc. to provide their participants with programs and resources that they would never have been able to provide on their own.

The program started in February. DePoint said participants come to the YMCA during the week as often as they want. Participants can begin going to the YMCA two or three days week and continue working through CIP Coon Rapids. They can also choose to attend the YMCA five days a week and retire.

Rise, Inc. CIP Day Training and Habilitation Programs Coordinator Tiffany Byers-Draeger said many participants start going to the YMCA five days a week and realize they miss their co-workers, so they may go back to working a few days a week.

Activities for Rise participants at the YMCA run from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. While at the YMCA, participants can try walking groups, yoga, Wii bowling and many other social and physical activities.

Emma B. Howe Northtown Family YMCA Branch Manager Margie Rask said participants may miss their social interaction at work as they retire.

To provide social interaction, the YMCA offers movie times, knit and crochet club, a music group, card games, bingo and old radio shows. Some participants also meet and befriend traditional YMCA members as they join other classes.

“Rise participants have full access to our facility. The approach is to be a true partnership, where they’re seen as another person in the building and they’re not labeled differently,” Rask said.

Rask also stressed the benefits that the Rise community brings to the YMCA as it seeks to comprehensively reflect the whole community, not just parts of the population.

“It just makes sense to have Rise here because the YMCA is here to serve the community and we really want to reflect the community… we’re here for everybody,” she said.

Byers-Draeger said they hope to eventually incorporate swimming into the programs provided to Rise participants, but will have to arrange for additional staff for safety reasons.

According to Rask, a maximum of 12 Rise participants can come to the YMCA each day. Since the schedules of Rise participants may vary and some may not come every day, up to 25 participants can be enrolled in the program.

If Rise wishes to expand the program for more than 25 participants, it will need additional staff, according to Rise, Inc. Activities Specialist Deb Wheatley.

Rise, Inc. provides the transportation from the participant’s home to the YMCA and back.

According to DePoint, the program is offered at no charge to the participant.

To get connected to the program, Rask said participants and their families can set up a tour at the YMCA.

Byers-Draeger said most participants have heard about the program through Rise, Inc. or word-of-mouth.

Bethany Kemming is at bethany.kemming@ecm-inc.com

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