Hastings Leader - 2021-05-05


Gym for disabled, elderly, youth


Shannon Johnstone

AHastings man’s dream of opening a free gym for elderly, those with special needs and mental health issues and at-risk youth, is coming to fruition in Hastings. NZ ITF Taekwon-do director and instructor Ben Evans first came up with the idea for All Abilities Fitness because he wanted to do something for the special needs people who train at his Hastings centre. This changed to becoming a space for more people including the elderly, youth at risk and people with mental health issues. The charity Special Needs Taekwon-Do Federation of New Zealand has been teaching those with special needs in the community since 2006. He had a couple of elderly people contact him saying they found gyms too expensive so Evans wants to make it available to them, as well as young people who can come with a supervisor. Opening in early May, community organisations providing mental health or disabilities services, services for the elderly and schools will be able to apply to use the free gym for their clients. The aim is to have a safe, non-judgemental environment where people can work out most days between 9am and 7pm. He first came up with the idea and logo about two months ago and “can’t believe how far it has gone with getting it all together”. They have been successful in receiving funding from Hastings District Masonic Trust, Pub Charity and First Light Foundation. Equipment supplier Flex Fitness Gym also took $1000 off their bill. “I’m quite blown away that [the dream] is coming true,” he said. They are still waiting on some equipment and have a wall being plastered this weekend, but Evans hopes the gym will open early next month. Evans would also like to be able to get wages for staff funded. The gym will be based with the Taekwon-do centre at 115 King St South, Hastings. Interested community organisations can contact Evans through Evans is also keen to hear from people who may want to get involved as staff.


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