TAMPA PALMS — In Maria Rivera’s opinion there are not many recreational programs in the Tampa Bay area specifically for adults with disabilities.
She should know.
Rivera is the mother of Alex, her 29-year-old son with special needs.
“That’s one of the things I love about the (New Tampa) Y,” said Rivera, who on a recent night voluntarily assisted Kass Pilczuk, New Tampa Family YMCA’s adaptive program coordinator, during an art class designed exclusively for people in their late teens and older with physical or intellectual limitations.
Anyone with a Y membership is welcome to join the group free of charge. Classes are at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the Tampa Palms facility, 16221 Compton Drive.
Meena Ballal watched as her daughter Harini Ballal, 18, used her creativity and the acrylic paints of her choice to paint on canvas a “tree of life,” embellished with multicolored buttons to depict the leaves.
She and others in the class patterned their artwork after a painting Maria Rivera created in advance.
“Mr. Kass is wonderful,” Meena Ballal said. “She introduces them to various mediums and they also do collages. Some are featured in Y’s annual silent auction.”
Kathy Pilczuk, 42, the daughter of Kass Pilczuk, was seated across the table from Harini Ballal.
“I love doing this,” she said.
Class participant Amy Rotherman, 28, shared similar thoughts.
“I love the art program because it inspires me to try my best and do new things,” she said. “Everybody is very happy and it’s basically a lot of fun.”
Allen Guy, a board member of New Tampa Y, stopped by to interact with the class participants and admire their work.
“These people brighten my day and it’s great that this Y has such an amazing adaptive program for them,” said Guy, a retiree who loves spending time with his special “friends” and on occasion takes them out to lunch and to Rays’ afternoon baseball games.
In addition to the adaptive arts program, the New Tampa Y offers swimming, volleyball and basketball, plus an activity titled walk, run and roll for children and adults with special needs.
New Tampa Y board member Haadhag Lawrence said the Y’s local board recognizes and wants to accommodate the diverse needs of the organization’s membership.
She also applauded Kass Pilczuk for her outstanding role in administering the adaptive programs.
“Kass does an amazing job,” said Lawrence, the mother of two sons who also serves as coach of the adaptive volleyball program.
To learn more about the New Tampa Y’s adaptive programs, contact Kass Pilczuk at (813) 866-9622.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]