Special Needs Fitness Program Gets Grant From Autism Speaks


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Yomi Karade, right, has gotten a grant from Autism Speaks to support her special needs fitness program at Platinum Fitness.

If you go to Platinum Fitness in Verona, you would think that you were at any regular gym with great equipment, a shake bar, and group fitness classes.

Platinum Fitness also, however, maintains a 100-square-foot personal training room for Individualized Fitness Programs (I.F.P.), which helps adults and children with special needs and disabilities. The advocacy group Autism Speaks recently awarded I.F.P. a $4,199 grant to support the program.

Yomi Karade, a personal trainer and registered behavior technician, launched I.F.P. in June 2018. She had noticed that many individuals with special needs were not as physically active as other people or given a full opportunity to exercise. So, with support of Platinum Fitness’ general manager, James Apap, I.F.P. was born.

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“I applied for a grant from Autism Speaks back in September,” Karade says. “Then in December, I received an email stating that we were awarded the grant. I couldn’t believe it. I am so thankful and grateful. To be recognized by Autism Speaks, a rich organization dedicated to research and treatments of Autism Spectrum Disorders and other conditions- is a wonderful achievement and accomplishment for I.F.P. and Platinum Fitness.”

Monica Cohn’s son Jordan is in the I.F.P. program. “For our almost 21 year old son, Jordan, Yomi Karade and I. F. P. have been a godsend,” she says. “I.F.P. allows other areas, beyond the physical, to develop. Social interaction abilities and motor planning are just two such areas that are fostered in the environment that Yomi and I.F.P. provide. Jordan has not only become more physically fit, improving his posture and his endurance, but he also has greatly overcome motor planning challenges, thus increasing self-esteem and confidence. Jordan consistently looks forward to his workouts with Yomi. We, his parents, consistently look forward to witnessing more and more development and growth in Jordan’s many accomplishments that he achieves with all that I. F. P. and Yomi Karade extraordinarily provide.”

Shawn Dennis also has a family member in the program. “My son, Brian, has been training with Yomi for eight months, and I couldn’t be happier with the results,” he says. “Brian works out twice a week in a program that Yomi designed specifically for him. His posture has improved, his strength has increased, and, best of all, he smiles throughout each session.”

Thanks to the Autism Speaks grant, I.F.P. will be be providing group sessions for students from New Beginning School, The Grammon School and NB4T in Fairfield, as well as individual personal training and free health and wellness dance parties. The coordinators of the Autism Speaks grant will be visiting the program on March 8.

Yomi Karade was born in Kent, England, and has been living in New Jersey for almost 20 years. “I have been working with the special needs and disability community since I was 13 years old when I was living in England,” the Caldwell resident says. “Now I run this amazing program as a personal trainer and the fitness training results of each of my clients are extraordinary.” Today, she trains around 20 clients with special needs and disabilities each week.

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For more information on I.F.P call Yomi Karade at 973-857-2500 or email [email protected] Platinum Fitness is located at 309 Pompton Avenue, Verona.

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