“I could not do my job without the assistance of the YMCA,” Jon Robins, Case Manager for Merakey, states. Jon works with youth on the autism spectrum. He refers all of his clients to the Y. For many of these kids, the only opportunity outside of school for fitness, socialization, and community integration is the Y. “Merakey and the Y have an amazing partnership that is life changing for these kids,” Robins says.
Typically, Jon’s non-verbal clients have sedentary behavior. He has seen withdrawn, isolated kids come out of their shell with group programs such as swim lessons, tumbling, and other fitness programs at the Y. And when parents get involved, the impact is even greater. “I’ve seen the kids become more relaxed and self-confident when their families are here at the Y with them,” he says. Jon also works one-on-one with some of his clients, like Trevor, to train for the Special Olympics. Consistency is a key component, as he’s been working with Trevor for the last four years and has seen amazing growth.
Jon has been a member of the Y since 1973 and has seen first-hand how much of an impact it has had on his own life. He works out every day and currently teaches boxing at the Lansdale branch. It not only helps with physical health, but with mental health as well.
Jon recently planned an Exceptional Friends Dance for high school students with special needs. “I can’t say enough about just how important the Y is to these kids and to me,” says Jon. “It is an integral part in what we do”.
(Merakey is a leading provider of education and human services to individuals with special needs.)