The Team GUTS Fun & Fitness Camp, run by the nonprofit organization  of the same name, will hold its day camp for five weeks in June and July.

The Team GUTS Fun & Fitness Camp, run by the nonprofit organization of the same name, will hold its day camp for five weeks in June and July.

Photo provided by Todd Turner


Ferndale nonprofit offers camp for people with disabilities

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 26, 2021

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FERNDALE — A Ferndale nonprofit organized a summer camp for children and adults with disabilities.

The Team GUTS Fun & Fitness Camp will run for five weeks, beginning in June and ending at the end of July, for those with disabilities ages 7 years old and above.

The Team GUTS day camp will allow attendees to go through a variety of fitness activities. This includes fitness and strength training, sports clinics, yoga, dance, and daily nature walks.

While those who have disabilities are able to go to a gym or fitness center, Team GUTS co-founder Todd Turner said they might not be comfortable going, and the classes and camp is one way that they can meet their fitness needs.

“Every day, we’ll start out with a walk, and then we’ll do different activities,” he said. “We’ll also do some arts and food. We’ll prepare some healthy snacks with our camp director leading the charge.”

Previously, Team GUTS had a facility in Ferndale for its clients, but it shut down after six years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the organization has held virtual classes and the upcoming camp.

Turner said he started GUTS because he has a daughter who has autism and Down syndrome. He stated that the main goal of the program is to improve health and fitness.

“The earlier we can get these kids going and doing stuff, the better chance we have of them continuing,” he said. “I know that’s true of everyone. … If we can start them early, then it becomes part of their routine and a habit. It doesn’t mean they can’t do it, but as they get older, it gets tough because these kids are sedentary.”

Turner said one of their important themes is strength training and building confidence, with another big component being socialization by holding classes with high school students, college students and adults who are their peers.

“A lot of our kids and students have autism. … We have clients that have cerebral palsy, Down syndrome. So weight loss is a big one, and just getting healthy,” he said. “We also teach eating habits — what to eat and what not to eat, and with special needs kids, it’s not always that easy because, like my daughter, there are certain things she just won’t eat. Part of it can be texture because she has autism and Down syndrome. She’s nonverbal, but there’s just certain things she won’t eat. And a lot of these kids, they just get into a routine and that’s it.”

Jackie Perantoni is the parent of a child who has participated with Team GUTS. She said her child, Anna, has fetal alcohol syndrome and a trauma background, and that Anna’s experience with the GUTS program has been a positive one.

“They make every client of theirs feel very special, no matter the age or ability,” she said. “Whenever you would walk in their doors, the staff makes everyone feel very special. Overall, they’re so accommodating and understanding, and as a parent, I really appreciate the owners and the staff always being respectful and nonjudgmental to me.”

From what her daughter has told her about her experiences at the camp, Perantoni said, she’s very comfortable and the staff puts a lot of focus on the kids and adults having as much fun as possible.

“She has enjoyed camp every year,” she said. “She looks forward to it and she goes for two weeks. It’s a great program because they provide one-on-one support for each camper. So you know everyone’s able to fully participate, and they’re very well supervised, and this is so reassuring as a parent.”

The camp will run from 9 a.m. to noon June 21-25, June 28 to July 2, July 12-16, July 19-23 and July 26-30. It will be located at Harding Park, located at 989 Mapledale St.

The cost to attend the camp each week is $250. People can register or find more information at www.teamgutsmichigan.com.

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