Open Gym program provides an opportunity for everyBODY to play together, Wauwatosa School District leads the way
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (October 11, 2022) – The Ability Center announces a commitment from PNC Bank and DICK’S Sporting Goods to support Open Gym, an adaptive program to encourage good health and wellness and to reinvent how people play together. As Proud Partners, PNC Bank and DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation’s support will help fund opportunities for participants to engage in indoor and outdoor activities and games like wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, goal ball and tennis.
“Have you ever worked with another organization that just feels like a natural fit right out of the gate? Well this partnership is one of those. The Ability Center and Wauwatosa Recreation Department is a dynamite combination for offering outstanding programming for all in our community. I am beyond excited for the future of this partnership,” Matthew Vanderkamp, CPRP, Director of Recreation, Wauwatosa School District.
“Open Gym provides an atmosphere where all can feel welcome, wanted and comfortable. Disability or not, Open Gym invites everybody to play together in an inclusive, non-competitive, friendly environment where friends, family and peers can play together in a ’Different Pair of Shoes,’ ” said Damian Buchman, founder and executive director of The Ability Center.
Since 2009, The Ability Center has fostered opportunities to provide people impacted with disabilities with a daily opportunity to be fit, active, healthy and to play, while also being inclusive to the able-bodied public. Wauwatosa School District was the first Open Gym location to come on board, setting the precedent for inclusion of adaptive athletics in the area.
“The Open Gym program aligns with PNC’s ‘Commit 2 Be Fit’ initiative which helps encourage communities and families to come together and promote good health and wellness. We’re excited that our support will also create intentional connection points for our employees and their families to become involved, volunteer and inspire inclusive engagement,” said Chris Hermann, PNC regional president for Wisconsin.
“The Ability Center has transformed my daughter’s mental and physical health. What we were going through the last four years was just heart wrenching, having a child with a chronic illness is hard. There is just so much darkness,” says Stephanie S., mother of an Open Gym participant. “She got in that gym and immediately felt at home. There was encouragement, positivity, and a way of having the feeling of normal, of who she was her whole life, her love of sports, her competitive nature, it was still a possibility.”
Open Gym runs year round with indoor and outdoor locations. Open Gym location partners are Whitman and Longfellow Middle Schools in Wauwatosa, Rite-Hite Family YMCA in Brown Deer, United Community Center in Walker’s Point Milwaukee, the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay and Pius XI Catholic High School in Milwaukee. More information and full schedule available at tacwi.org/open-gym/.
About The Ability Center
The Ability Center’s (TAC) goal is to provide a higher quality of life for people of all abilities by transforming greater Milwaukee into the most universally inclusive recreation destination in the world. TAC achieves its mission, to provide people impacted by disabilities with a daily opportunity to be fit, active, healthy, and to play, through three initiatives: RampUp: Universal Community, which designs, builds and/or implements universally inclusive recreational opportunities; Open Gym: Adaptive Programs, partners with community-based nonprofits, and parks & recreation departments – Open Gym provides an opportunity for people of all abilities to play together in an inclusive, non-competitive, friendly environment where your friends, family, peers and/or colleagues can join you to play in a “Different Pair of Shoes;” and ASAP: Inclusive Education, a school-based Adaptive Scholastic Athletic Program (ASAP), hosts disability awareness assemblies and inclusive physical education classes. Connect with us on tacwi.org, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
About PNC Bank
PNC Bank, National Association, is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. ( NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit pnc.com
About DICK’S Sporting Goods
DICK’S Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) creates confidence and excitement by personally equipping all athletes to achieve their dreams. Founded in 1948 and headquartered in Pittsburgh, the leading omnichannel retailer serves athletes and outdoor enthusiasts in more than 850 DICK’S Sporting Goods, Golf Galaxy, Field & Stream, Public Lands, Going Going Gone! and Warehouse Sale stores, online, and through the DICK’S mobile app. DICK’S also owns and operates DICK’S House of Sport and Golf Galaxy Performance Center, as well as GameChanger, a youth sports mobile app for scheduling, communications, live scorekeeping and video streaming.
Driven by its belief that sports make people better, DICK’S has been a longtime champion for youth sports and, together with its Foundation, has donated millions of dollars to support under-resourced teams and athletes through the Sports Matter program and other community-based initiatives. Additional information about DICK’S business, corporate giving, sustainability efforts and employment opportunities can be found on dicks.com, investors.dicks.com, sportsmatter.org, dickssportinggoods.jobs and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About the Wauwatosa School District
The Wauwatosa School District is a high achieving, forward-thinking, richly diverse public school district serving approximately 7,200 students and families. The District consists of 16 schools: 11 elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools and the Wauwatosa Virtual Academy. Among these are two charter schools: Wauwatosa Montessori and Wauwatosa STEM. A full STEM program is offered at Underwood Elementary and at both middle schools. Additionally, the District provides education for several county programs including Children’s Hospital and Vel R. Phillips School. The educational community’s long history of excellence has been recognized both regionally and nationally.
The Wauwatosa School District does not discriminate on the basis of a person’s color, sex, race, religion, national origin, creed, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. For more information, visit the Wauwatosa School District website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram pages.