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Fitness Inclusion Network (Fit-IN)


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The Fitness Inclusion Network is a collaborative, cross-institution initiative that was launched in 2013 with support from the Upstate Foundation/Golisano Children's Hospital, SUNY Cortland Department of Physical Education, and the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University. We are an interdisciplinary group of athletes, students, families, and professionals in adapted physical education, medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, engineering, therapeutic recreation, special education, social work, and disability policy and law.


To develop innovative ways to promote and support inclusive fitness for children, adolescents and adults with disabilities in Central New York.


Calendar/Information Hub
We maintain a list of local adapted physical activity and inclusive sports opportunities and post upcoming sports events on our calendar.  We also provide updates about local sports events via listserve, Twitter and Facebook. Our information hub is maintained by Peyton Sefick. Please, contact Peyton if you would like to post an event or spread the word about an inclusive fitness resource.

Our team has published a wide variety of educational materials, manuals, and DVDs. These are all open-source materials that can be downloaded from our website. In 2012, with support from the Green Family Foundation and the Madeline Cote Fund, we launched the first in a planned series of guidebooks for high school students. These guidebooks are intended to help high school students to be change agents in the inclusive fitness movement.

Annual Fit-In Conference
We have received generous ongoing support from the Golisano Childrens Hospital/Upstate Foundation to host a regional conference on inclusive fitness. Each year the interdisciplinary Fit-In conference will bring in national leaders in the field of adapted sports to foster innovation and to boost inclusive fitness in ourcommunity. The Fit-In conference is videotaped with closed captioning and archived on our website in order to reach a wide audience.

Fit-IN First Annual Conference & Power Mobility Workshop Participants

Fit-IN First Annual Conference & Power Mobility Workshop Participants


Peyton Sefick

Peyton Sefick, BA, Director of Community Outreach

Competition through sport has been an inherent passion in my life. My parents were athletes throughout their college years and my sister, a Division I runner, would always push me to my best. Growing up in a power wheelchair, I found it difficult to keep up with my peers on the playground or in gym class. My friends all played club sports but I never saw that as an opportunity for myself. After countless adaptations to backyards games, I finally found power soccer. This is a sport for individuals in power chairs who have a thirst for competition. As I got deeper into the sport, I found myself representing my country on the US National Team. The impact of this sport is clear in most aspects of my life.  The support I've since found from the greater power soccer community has been tremendous.

I used the tools I learned in power soccer to help navigate through a bachelor's degree in psychology from Le Moyne College. Since 2013 I have led inclusive practices for sport and recreation in my community in my role as Director for Community Outreach for the Fitness Inclusion Network. I cannot express how much power soccer means to me but I can see how important having a sense of freedom and camaraderie is. I hope to spread adaptive sport and inclusive recreation as much as I can to bolster communities and strengthen individuals.

Nienke P. Dosa MD, MPH, Director of Strategic Initiatives. Dr. Dosa is a developmental pediatrician at SUNY Upstate Medical University and medical director of the Spina Bifida Center of Central New York. She currently holds the Upstate Foundation Professorship in Child Health Policy and is a Senior Fellow at Syracuse University’s Burton Blatt Institute. Her academic work is focused on community models for developmental disability care, particularly as this relates to the transition to adulthood and inclusive fitness across the lifespan.

Chris Abbott,  MA has served since 2002 as a Recreation Program Director with the City of Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation, and Youth Programs. He is a member of the Onondaga County Youth Board, and the Syracuse City School District Wellness Committee. In 2014 he joined the Fitness Inclusion Network as a community partner. With Fit In, the  City has expanded recreation offerings in its parks, and delivered valuable training opportunities for staff. Prior to his work with the Parks Department, Chris managed worksite fitness and wellness programs in the Syracuse area.  He earned a Master’s degree from the University of Connecticut in the study of exercise science, and holds certifications with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, including as a physical activity in public health specialist.  Most recently, Chris and several colleagues from the City Parks Department completed Inclusion U training through the Inclusive Recreation Resource Center, are now certified as inclusivity assessors.

Dr. Anne Marie Abt is a board certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist. She is employed by the Jamesville DeWitt Central School District and has experience in early intervention, preschool and with the school age population.  She enjoys collaborating with families and community members in the Adaptive Design Association. 

Rebecca Alexander, SPT, DPT3 is a physical therapy student and a 200-hour registered yoga instructor. She has a BA in Political Science and will graduate with her doctorate in physical therapy from Upstate Medical University in May of 2018. Her professional areas of interest include neuroscience and pediatrics, with a special interest in individuals on the autism spectrum. Rebecca completed her yoga training at the Kripalu Center for Yoga in Massachusetts, and has taught yoga and meditation for four years. In April 2016 she received a Kripalu grant to teach yoga to children at the Southwest Community Center via the CHAMP program at Upstate Medical University.She is passionate about adaptive fitness, and instructed a Unified Yoga program with adolescents in the summer of 2017. Through this program, she helped author a Unified Yoga booklet published by the Fitness Inclusion Network with collaboration from Syracuse Parks and Recreation and Upstate Medical University. 

Don Carr, IDSA, Program Coordinator for the MFA in Design at Syracuse University.

Professor Carr is an industrial designer and design educator. His research is focused on how design thinking and collaborative practice can address a range of challenges. He is currently a Faculty Fellow at the SyracuseCoE and a member of both the Aging Studies Institute and the Disability and Cultural Center.  He is also an active member of the Adaptive Design Syracuse where he supports the design and fabrication of a wide-range of products. A life-long skiing enthusiast, he has designed products for the ski industry worked with the ARISE Adaptive Ski Program.

Luis Columna, PhD, CAPE,  a native of San Juan Puerto Rico, is currently an Associate Professor in the Exercise Science Department at Syracuse University. Prior to coming to Syracuse, Professor Columna was an Associate Professor at SUNY Cortland, NY. He is proud to be one of a few Hispanic Physical Education faculty at a Carnegie Classified RU/H Research University. Throughout his doctoral studies, he taught adapted physical education in the Denton, TX public schools.  His research focuses on ways to increase the participation of families (especially Hispanic) of children with disabilities into physical activity and also his research focuses on ways to better prepare teachers to work with diverse populations. To address the physical activity needs of children with disabilities and their parents, Dr. Columna developed the Syracuse University Fit Families Program. SU Fit Families is a physical activity program that brings together children with disabilities, their parents, college students and in-service professionals in the fields of adapted physical education, orientation & mobility (O&M), physical education, and exercise science, among others. The Syracuse University Fit Families Program was designed to increase the physical activity levels of children through modified activities using adapted equipment and, importantly, to increase the families' comfort level in having their children participate in sport. This program also teaches children and their families how to access nearby facilities and modify familiar activities, resulting in health benefits for all. Children and parents are  involved in developmentally designed, land-based, and aquatic physical activities. At the national level, Columna has served on numerous committees within several organizations, including the Social Justice and Cultural Diversity Committee for both AAHPERD and NAKPEHE. Currently, he is the first Hispanic to be the Chair-Elect for the Adapted Physical Activity Council (AAPAR) and Co-Chair for the Everybody Can! Video Contest organized by AAPAR. Columna is a sought-after speaker and has given over fifty workshops and presentations at the international, national and state levels.

Timothy D. Davis, Ph.D., is an associate faculty member in the Physical Education Department at State University of New York at Cortland. He is also the Graduate Coordinator for Adapted Physical Education. He earned his bachelors and masters degrees in Physical Education/Adapted Physical Education from California State University at Chico and a PhD in Adapted Physical Education/Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Virginia. He has been teaching in the field of Adapted Physical Education for over twenty five years. Dr. Davis is the national chair of the Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS) Program and oversees the national standards and certification process in Adapted Physical Education sponsored by the National Consortium on Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities (NCPERID). Dr. Davis has created school partnerships in APE and has partnered with SUNY Upstate Medical to develop the Fit Families and Families on the Go Programs that address the needs of children with spina bifida and their families. Tim received the Rozanne Brooks Distinguished Teaching Professor Award and was awarded the William A. Hillman Distinguished Service award through the National Consortium on Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities.He is the director of the SUNY Cortland CHAMP/I Can Do It afterschool peer mentorship program, the Sensory Integration/Motor Sensory (SIMS) Movement Center. Most recently, he has been invited to speak at the White House on sport and physical education for children with disabilities as well as be an invited speaker at the United Nations speaking on behalf of international rights for children with disabilities.

John T. Foley, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Physical Education at the State University of New York at Cortland. Dr. Foley teaches both measurement and adapted physical education classes at the graduate and undergraduate levels and is the director of the Physical Activity Laboratory. He is an active member of the SUNY Cortland Institute for Disability Studies and is past-President of the North American Federation of Adapted Physical Activity and Fellow of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Research Consortium.Dr Foley’s research focuses on ways to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviors in children with disabilities. He has over 20 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities in various sport, recreational, and fitness

environments. These experiences include guiding alpine skiers with visual impairments at the United States National Championships; working with community-based programs to increase recreational opportunities for individuals with traumatic brain injury and intellectual disabilities; and running an exercise program for individuals with multiple sclerosis. His work has been published in peer-reviewed journals in the fields of public health, exercise science and adapted physical activity.As part of collaborative group, Dr Foley has worked with colleagues from SUNY Upstate and SUNY Brockport to develop a training DVD for teachers working with children with visual impairments.His current joint research projects include the use of group medical visits to increase physical activity in youth with spina bifida (with SUNY Upstate Medical) and the use of auditory and tactical based active games to increase physical activity in youth with visual impairments (with University of Nevada at Reno).

Leah Moser manages the Healthy Monday Syracuse campaign, an initiative of the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in community, public and worksite health from Truman State University, and a Master’s degree in public health through the Central New York Master of Public Health program at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and SUNY Upstate Medical University. The Lerner Center and Fitness Inclusion Network have partnered to assess and design Monday Mile routes in Syracuse and across Central New York to be inclusive of people of all abilities.

Lisa Neville, M.S. O.T.R./L. is an occupational therapist at Jowonio inclusive preschool in Syracuse, New York.  She received a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree from Columbia University and has practiced in pediatric educational settings throughout her career. She is a clinical instructor for occupational therapy fieldwork students and lectures on a variety of topics at several central New York colleges and universities.  Her professional interests include social and emotional development, inclusive education, augmented communication, assistive and adaptive technologies, adapted sport/recreation, early power mobility and adaptive design.  She is a member of the Fitness Inclusion Network and the adapted dance instructor for the Ballet For All program and a member of ARISE Adaptive Design.

Fit-In Summer Interns

2013: Jordan Levy

2014: Danielle Lalone Daniels

2015: Jesse Evensky

2016:  Mady Locastro

2017:  Rebecca Alexander, Sophie Nash, Michaela Denson

The Fit-IN Team

                                                                                              More bios coming soon