I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you. My name is Lisa Nigro and I am the founder of Inspiration Corporation and my newest venture, Transform U. Transform U is a job development program in the fitness industry for persons with developmental disabilities. Our goal is to teach people with development disabilities who are 18 and older and have a passion for fitness to become Certified Fitness Professionals. Once our students become certified they can become Peer Personal Trainers or Group Exercise Instructors.
As you know, health and fitness are a very big concern for those with physical or mental challenges. Having someone who intimately knows the struggle because they have similar challenges may encourage an individual to become more physically active. Our larger goal is for our trainers to become employed in mainstream fitness facilities and personal training studios and for them to open the general public’s eyes to see the strengths and abilities of people who may not look like them but have the same goals and desires to become contributing members of society.
How will this work? We are linking personal training mentors across the nation with our students. They will obtain a certification through The American Council of Exercise (ACE), which is a nationally recognized certifying agency. While researching this concept we found a similar program in London, England, run by a group called Aspire. Aspire began with a small pilot program at a local YMCA that was quite successful. Some of Aspire’s graduates are employed in fitness facilities and a new group is starting this September 2011. We knew our concept was a good one, and are even more encouraged by the success of Aspire’s program.
In the following months we will update you on the progress of our program. You will be able to watch videos of our students and mentors on a soon to be released website. We are currently looking for seed funding because our long term goal is to become self sustaining. We will do this by selling fitness videos for people with special needs and fitness gear for everyone.
We are excited to become the first project within the Protected Tomorrows Charities network. Our first pilot programs will be in Chicago, Ill., and the Hampton Roads community in Virginia. We are planning an initial retreat in each community so the mentors can meet each other and their base teams in each area. Our plan is to document our whole journey so others may learn from our process and experience. As for my team, I can say without a doubt we are excited to be changed from the inside out and to be the best advocates we can be.