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home : news : news Saturday, May 28, 2016

9/3/2014 Email this articlePrint this article 
Fitness Center pool becomes ADA compliant

By Kate Howes
Staff writer

Roger Oltman got a workout of his own every time his wife, Mary, went to water exercise class at the DeWitt Fitness Center.

Due to her multiple sclerosis, Mary uses a wheelchair.

At the beginning of every class, Roger would have to lower his wife into the water and after class was over, carefully lift her back out.

Even her classmates would assist with the process if they could.

However, with the new lift that recently was installed, enjoying her time in the water will be much easier for both Roger and Mary.

"I think it's wonderful," she says of the lift chair that has a 350-pound capacity, dual armrests, adjustable footrest and lap belt. "I'm so glad it's here."

The lift officially makes the fitness center pool compliant according to standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

After learning the Department of Justice updated its regulations under the ADA requiring certain types of recreational facilities to be handicap accessible - including swimming and wading pools and spas - the city has been setting aside money in the budget to get the pool up to code.

Parks and recreation director Kevin Lake says it's a valuable amenity for the facility.

He hopes it draws a new group of individuals who would've made use of the pool but physically were unable.

"Now that (the lift) is here, we want people to make good use of it," Lake relates. "That's what it's here for; to allow people to enjoy the water who otherwise couldn't."

The battery pack for the lift will be kept at the front desk to avoid misuse of the chair. Lake says those who will need the lift must first notify the front desk and have an able-bodied person accompany them to safely get in and out.

In addition to being secure, the lift also is easy to operate. With a touch of a button on a remote control, the chair gradually lowers and lifts people in and out of the water.

"We're just happy people like Mary who need assistance can safely use the pool," Lake says. "That's what it's all about, safety. It's also just nice to know people with physical disabilities can now swim and just enjoy being in the water."

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