In 2018, Hannibal YMCA’s Group Fitness & Aquatics Coordinator reached out to Dreamscape Foundation seeking guidance and assistance on how to make their YMCA facility – and its programs – more accessible. The effort was inspired by one of their wheelchair-bound members, Audrey Pickett, who wanted to be more involved but was facing accessibility challenges at their facility.
Dreamscape Foundation immediately responded, and has since been providing advice on accessibility options and resources, as well as contributing funds to support the programs and equipment that would make accessibility possible.
The collaboration sparked a movement; one driven by Audrey’s determination to make the world more accessible for herself and others. She experienced firsthand how the fitness equipment and programs at the YMCA can improve her life, her personal strength, and her mobility.
Beyond that, she found a sense of community at the YMCA that accepted her, encouraged her, and offered opportunities to be involved with the organization. She wanted other individuals in her community with disabilities to have these same opportunities. Thus, Dreamscape Foundation remained in contact and continued to support her in these efforts.
Below is an update on her story.
From Student to Instructor: Audrey is an Invaluable Asset to the YMCA
In addition to her attending her physical training sessions, Audrey is now an instructor teaching Pound classes at the same YMCA that she helped evolve to accommodate accessibility needs. The class is a high energy cardio, conditioning, and strength training program that utilizes special drumsticks called “Ripstix.” The exercise uses these sticks to combine rhythmic beats with Pilates- and Yoga-inspired movements, and is easily modified to suit participant’s unique level of abilities.
“When I first started taking Pound two years ago, I didn’t ever think I was going to be teaching it,” Audrey confessed. “I didn’t even think I was going to last a class. But then I kept going back.”
When asked about how the last two years have impacted her, she said, “It’s made me a better person, and it’s made me stronger. I realized that I can do more than I thought I could do.”
Audrey has always enjoyed teaching and has desired to do so in some capacity. However, being a Pound instructor at the YMCA is an opportunity she never imagined would be a reality when this all began. She attributes her growth to both her dedicated practice and effort as well as the support of the people around her.
Beyond teaching, Audrey is also an active YMCA volunteer. Recently, she helped assemble food boxes for their USDA-funded food program called Meals On The Go. The program provides one week’s worth of food per box for youth ages 18 years and younger.
“I love this place,” Audrey said. “It’s my second home.”
Audrey continues to serve as a huge driver for accessibility at the YMCA. Her voice has led to several changes, including adapting the handicap restroom to be more accessible.
“Audrey mentioned that the stall was very tight, and she really couldn’t get in there, turn her chair and shut the door,” said Hannibal YMCA CEO Eric Abts. “And we appreciated that perspective. We moved on it pretty quickly, and got it switched over. Now it’s better for everyone.”
Looking forward, Audrey aspires to continue to grow, expanding her capabilities as a Pound instructor and possibly return to school to expand her education.
“I wanted to say we’re extremely thankful to Dreamscape Foundation for making this possible,” Eric said. “You guys have been wonderful. We’ve had this relationship with Dreamscape for well over a year now and it’s just been a blessing.”« Previous