One of our biggest goals at Jam Hops is to positively impact the community and families we work with. When thinking of ways we could do that better this year, our leaders at Jam Hops realized something was missing—a program that fosters a space for ALL athletes, including children with disabilities. Our Alpha Athletes Director, Angela Brandt, answers some great questions about the non-profit and programming that Jam Hops created to accomplish this goal.
What are Alpha Athletes and Jam Hope Foundation?
Once we identified the type of programming to offer, the next step was developing a non-profit organization called Jam HOPE Foundation. Jam HOPE Foundation’s first program is called Alpha Athletes. The Alpha Athletes program was created to be inclusive and provide adaptive and supportive classes for children with disabilities. This program allows children with disabilities to participate in and get the most out of our classes. The Alpha Athletes programming will run seamlessly with all our other Jam Hops programming.
Why did Jam Hops create this new program?
The aim of the program is to develop life skills including confidence, self-esteem, body awareness, movement foundations, strength, and flexibility. All athlete participants can learn and progress at their own ability and time considering their activity level and attention span.
Who are Alpha Athletes?
Alpha Athletes are children with a disability aged 4 – 10 years of age. These children would benefit from smaller class sizes, more coach support, and an opportunity to develop at their own pace. Parents fill out an intake form during registration to help coaches have a better understanding of the child’s strengths and needs for the class.
How are classes specifically designed for children with varying needs?
All Alpha Athlete participants can learn and progress at their own ability. The classes are smaller with more coach support. The classes also focus on skills like transitioning between activities, taking turns, and being an active participant within the group. Our Movement class is scheduled during a quiet, less busy time in the gym to reduce distractions and provide the best learning environment for participants. Our Alpha Athlete Open Gym is limited to 10 children and parents assist their children during that time.
What Alpha Athlete programs/classes do Jam Hops offer?
What are you most excited about in your role?
As a teacher, I often have parents share that they are looking for activities that their child can participate in, and they feel frustrated that there aren’t as many opportunities for children with disabilities. All children love to run, jump, roll, and play. I’m very excited to share their experiences in the classes.
What's something you want people to know about activities for children with disabilities?
It’s a known fact that movement has many benefits for children by regulating their emotional, cognitive, social, and physical needs. Although Alpha Athletes may do gymnastics or dance in a more modified approach, they have the same aspiration as children without disabilities. These classes will also help increase their physical strength, gross and fine motor skills, social skills, and self-confidence.
How can our Jamily support the growth and success of Alpha Athletes?
There are many ways our Jamily can support the success of Alpha Athletes.
There has been an incredible amount of interest in the classes, so we are looking to hire more qualified staff to add additional classes. If you’re interested in joining our Jamily as an Alpha Athletes Instructor, check out the Employment page on our website for a position description and online application.
Alpha Athletes will soon begin taking donations to help cover the start-up costs, maintain low child-teacher ratios, and contracting ASL interpreters. Stay tuned for information about donating to the Jam HOPE Foundation and Alpha Athletes.
If you know any families that this program could serve, please recommend us! For many families, finding an activity for a child with a disability is a difficult task. Please tell your friends.
Where can people find out more information about Alpha Athletes or register for classes?
Information for classes and Open Gym can be found on the Alpha Athlete tab of our website and on flyers available at Jam Hops. Registration and our intake form are also available on the Alpha Athletes tab of our website. Want to know more? Contact our Alpha Athletes Director, Angela Brandt, at firstname.lastname@example.org.