A Westlake High School special education assistant has found
her niche blending exercise with special needs individuals.
Angela Siciliano is in her second year as an assistant in the Westlake School District leading special education exercise classes.
Now, she is hoping to expand similar classes at Welcome House.
“I started (teaching adaptive Jazzercise) in 2005,” Siciliano, a certified Jazzercise instructor and Westlake resident, said. “I was asked to teach aerobics at SOAR (Sports Opportunities & Active Recreation).”
SOAR, which focuses on mentally and physically challenged individuals, became a hit.
“I stopped teaching regular Jazzercise,” Siciliano said. She now teaches an adaptive Jazzercise weekly class in Parma at the Big Creek Center that has more than 45 students. Programs are tailored for those in the class.
“Adaptive Jazzercise is for individuals with disabilities,” she said. “Including blind, wheelchairs, mental disabilities... My class is just like Jazzercise but there are 10 minute breaks between sets
Her classes at Westlake High School count about 16 students with four typical students who are peer helpers.
Now she is hoping to expand classes at the Welcome House, which is open to anyone with a disability. Attendees do not need to be a resident of Welcome House.
“There is no where around here where a person with disabilities can do something like this,” she said.
The benefits, Siciliano said, are immense.
“It helps with hand eye coordination, flexibility, balance, heart rate,” she said. “From an aerobics aspect. There is the importance of getting a good sweat in.”
The classes provide an added bonus: socialization in a comfortable atmosphere.
“They are in an environment that is safe,” Siciliano said. “They meet friends. I have students that have really opened up.”
Siciliano said the classes provide a good workout.
“I’m not easy on my guys. I challenge them.”
She is assisted by Patty McGuire who she met while both were working at the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
New classes begin at the Welcome House Community Center at 27200 Lorain Rd. in Westlake on Sept. 10. Right now, classes are limited to those over the age of 18 and are held on Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. The cost is $30 for a six-week session.
She hopes to be able to expand classes to more than once a week and eventually offer classes to those under 18.
For more information on classes at Welcome House, contact 440-773 5742 or by email at Angelasd9@aol.com.