Rec center provides for disabled

  • December 16, 2009
  • Bruce Bromley

The handicap signs and ramps are not the only aspects of the Wildcat Recreation Center that make it so inviting to students with disabilities.

The center is up to code as far as features for disabled people. However, the recreation center went beyond what was required by code in order to accommodate all disabilities — even for those in wheelchairs.

“If we have the opportunity to make it more accessibility-friendly, we will,” said Teresa Clements, assistant director of membership services for the recreation center.

From special weight machines to a zero-entry pool, the recreation center is completely accessible to all disabled Chico State students, faculty and staff.

Some people with disabilities not only come to work out at the center, but also have personal trainers who help them with their workouts.

One such student is Greg Wells, a junior at Chico State who is in a wheelchair.

Because of an accident in a high school wrestling match, Wells is a quadriplegic, with no use of his hands, fingers or legs, he said.

“We try to come up with as many things as I can do,” Wells said. “Whatever works and feels good.”

Rec centre providing access for people with a disability Accessible gym equipment

The recreation center has a variety of disability-equipped machines. Staff is also looking to make future improvements so the center will be even more accessible

Wells uses hooks attached to gloves to do his weight exercises, mostly using the pulley weights and the upper body ergonomic machines.

The recreation center planning staff did many walkthroughs of other facilities to ensure they had a wide range of ideas, including features for disabled people for the new center.

Disability Support Services was contacted during the purchasing of equipment to make sure the machines and other equipment were accessible for students with disabilities. They also did a walk-through after construction of the recreation center was completed to ensure everything was accessible, said Debbie Boyes, office manager of disability support services.

The only complaint Clements has heard was from a man in a wheelchair, asking for lower and more bars in the showers to make it easier to get in and out, she said. The bars are on order and will be installed soon.

Some of the features that are especially appealing to disabled students include the zero-entry pool, which allows people to either wheel their own wheelchairs into the water or use the provided chair at the WREC, Clements said.

There are several ergonomic machines specifically designed for those with disabilities that allow the chairs to be wheeled into an opening under the machine, making it fully accessible, Clements said.

Also, the WREC features cardio machines, called SciFit Upper Body Ergometers that are fully accessible to those in wheelchairs. They are also used by people without disabilities because of the quality of workout that they provide, Clements said.

The height of the hot tub is convenient for those in wheelchairs. The ledge is the same height as most wheelchairs, so people can easily slide in and out of the hot tub, Clements said.

The basketball courts are fully accessible with ramps leading into them making it easy access for anyone, she said.

The only thing that may need to be changed is the locker room doors, Clements said. Even though they stay open now, when closed it creates an obstacle for people with some disabilities, she said. The doors may be changed to automatic doors, if necessary.

“Of course it’s kind of nice anytime when they can do things independently, that’s what they want to do,” Clements said.

There is always staff on hand in case anyone needs assistance with anything, Clements said.

If there is ever something anyone needs, the people are very helpful and easy to talk to, she said.

Some people with disabilities come in on scooters, some in wheelchairs, some with crutches and even some with guide dogs, Clements said. There is quite a mix.

Some use the center in addition to the BE:WEL clinic, which is an exercise facility and clinic in the Chico State kinesiology building, accessible to disabled adults within the community because of the wider range of workouts, Wells said.

“It’s been nice that we’ve been able to have some of our features that they can come right in, get their workout done and use the equipment that they need,” Clements said.

It would be nice to see more people come and use the recreation center, regardless of the type of body you have, able or disable, Wells said.


Nicole Landini can be reached at