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Rochester’s Collaborative Open Gym Program Triples in Second Year

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ROCHESTER — City Manager Dan Fitzpatrick is pleased to announce that participation in the city’s Collaborative Open Gym program has tripled in its second year.

Participants from the Bud Carlson Academy and Community Partners meet once a week for the Collaborative Open Gym program. (Courtesy Photo)

The program works as a partnership between Rochester Recreation and Arena, the Bud Carlson Academy and Community Partners — the area agency for developmental disabilities and the community mental health center for behavioral health services for all of Strafford County.

From September through May, adult clients at Community Partners meet every Wednesday for an hour at the Rochester Community Gymnasium, a facility space provided by the Rochester Recreation Department, to play games and participate in social activities.

“Rochester Recreation and Arena is lucky to be able to support such programs in our facility,” said Lauren Krans, Assistant Director of Rochester Recreation and Arena. “We love seeing these community connections being made.”

The gym session is run by Jason Bushway, a teacher from the Bud Carlson Academy. He works to ensure that all activities are modified to meet the abilities of everyone involved, as the goal of the program is to have 100 percent participation, regardless of one’s physical or developmental abilities. Popular activities include dodge ball, Wiffle ball and basketball.

“Our students come to school every Wednesday excited to see their friends from Community Partners,” Bushway said. “Watching our students in a mentor and leadership role has been a true testament to our mission at the Bud Carlson Academy. We’re always reminding our students of our guiding skills, one of which is being a responsible and involved citizen. Collaborative Open Gym has really helped students demonstrate this.”

Now in its second year, the program grew from 10 participants to 30. Program activities are led by Rochester students from the Bud Carlson Academy and participants include adult clients of Community Partners from Rochester and surrounding communities.

“We’re happy that through our recreation department, we’re able to provide a space for adults at Community Partners and the Bud Carlson Academy to come and participate in athletic activities with friends and community members,” City Manager Fitzpatrick said. “I imagine that as we go into our third year, participation will continue to increase.”

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