[TOMS RIVER, NJ] — The Ocean County YMCA is closing in on its goal of raising $185,000 for the “Making Waves for the Next Generation” initiative – thanks to a generous matching donation from The Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation, Inc.
“The Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation graciously offered to match our fundraising efforts once we reach $185,000,” said Gretchen Insole, Interim CEO of the Ocean County YMCA. “We have currently raised $147,191.”
The Making Waves initiative officially kicked off last November.
“We are grateful to our swimmers, supporters and donors who made the Making Waves campaign such a success,” said Michael P. Ritacco, Board of Directors’ Chair of the Ocean County YMCA.
Donations will benefit the improvements to the Y’s 12-lane aquatic center. “From the novice to the competitive swimmer, toddlers to seniors, hundreds of thousands of individuals from our community and beyond have enjoyed the pool for over 20 years,” said Insole.
Through initiatives like this, the Ocean County YMCA can continue to offer new and exciting offerings to the public like its Adaptive Swim Programs – Swimming on the Spectrum, Swimming Without Limits, Fitness on the Spectrum and Autism Friendly Swim Hour. These classes are open to children and adults with intellectual and/or physical disabilities.
“I have worked with children on the autism spectrum for the past 11 years in various capacities,” said Daniel Giacin, Autism Programming Director.
Over a period of seven years of working with autistic children while living in Oregon, Giacin’s passion helped create a program called Swimming on the Spectrum. “I am excited to bring this program here to New Jersey and to build other programs dedicated to individuals on the autism spectrum,” he added.
Swimming on the Spectrum is an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) inspired adaptive water safety/swim program for children and adults on the autism spectrum. Swimming without Limits focuses on those with physical and intellectual/developmental disabilities.
Both programs offer an individualized curriculum, meeting each swimmer at their ability, as they work toward mastering water safety skills. “Our Adaptive Swim Classes are designed to give each and every person the skills and knowledge to be safe in and around the water, but most importantly, to have fun and enjoy!” said Giacin.
The Y also hosts an Autism Friendly Swim Hour, a free event that takes place after hours, to provide a more quiet, sensory-friendly environment for those on the autism spectrum. Registration is required. Learn more here.
Fitness on the Spectrum focuses on balance, movement and coordination for children with autism. One on one fitness instruction is provided based on an individual’s needs. Fitness on the Spectrum is an ABA-inspired personalized fitness class for individuals on the autism spectrum. Those interested can also contact Giacin directly at email@example.com.
In addition to these programs, the Y, led by Giacin, has been working with area schools like Toms River Regional School District and Lacey Township High School on incorporating young adult programs, ages 18-21, to help transition children who are on the spectrum into young adulthood. “This is a very inclusive program that targets the mind, body and fitness,” said Giacin. “Everyone is welcome here.”
To learn more about Ocean County YMCA or to donate to the “Making Waves for the Next Generation” initiative, please visit ocymca.org.
About the Ocean County YMCA
At the Y, we take immense pride in our work to strengthen communities and help all of us be our best selves. We provide a place to play, to learn, to be healthy, and to give back. We believe that everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from, deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential. Everything the Y does is in service of making sure people and communities thrive. To learn more, visit ocymca.org.