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The Master’s Handicap Fitness Center

By Kathy Barr



Physical fitness is very important to David and Pam Churchill. Pam enjoys using the punching and speed bags to strengthen her arms and shoulders, and also likes to use the weight lifting equipment to build up her strength. David’s favorite {{more}} machine is the Versa Track, which he uses to strengthen his arms and shoulders This all may seem pretty normal, until you learn that David and Pam spend their waking hours in wheelchairs. However, they are determined to live a complete life, including physical workouts to maintain their health. They also want to improve the lives of others dealing with physical and mental handicaps. Because of this desire, they are working on opening a fitness center within the next year that is handicap accessible. Donations of equipment like a treadmill, bicycle, punching and speed bags, weight equipment, and a Total Gym 1000, which can be used to strengthen arms, legs, abs, back, chest and shoulders, are located in the house next door to where Pam and David live. Pam is certified as an aerobics instructor by the American Fitness Association, and is preparing for her recertification test in November. She will use her knowledge and experience to teach others who are physically challenged. Future plans for the center include setting up a library, offering job training and computer classes, and starting support groups for newly-disabled individuals. They also hope to renovate the kitchen and turn it into an independent living area. Many who have finished rehabilitation need further education, Pam said, in areas such as learning how to cook while sitting down. Using this area, the Churchills want to teach the newly disabled skills they will need to adapt to their situation. Education not only teaches people new skills, Pam said, but also raises their hope, teaches them to think positively, and instills discipline. “People have choices on how to deal with their disability,” Pam said. She and David want to make sure the disabled in our community have access to the training and opportunities others that others have. Opening the center would probably be impossible if not for a generous offer from Dyess Air Force Base. About a month ago, a representative of the “We Care” program called and told Pam that they were looking for projects in the community to partner with. In addition to renovating a house into a fitness center, the Dyess team will also make much-needed improvements on Pam and David’s residence. David and Pam also hope to minister to people’s spiritual needs. Once the center has opened, they plan to talk to local ministers about coming to the center and giving devotional talks. The Churchills don’t want to discriminate against able-bodied individuals. They hope that people who aren’t physically challenged will also visit the center. “We want to provide an atmosphere of comfort for the disabled and the abled,” Pam said. There’s one word to describe David and Pam – determined. As it often happens, there have been obstacles. The latest roadblock was learning they would need to have the property rezoned, at a cost of $300. This will not deter the Churchills – they plan to host a yard sale this fall. With the help of friends and their church family, they are confident they can raise the money. Pam emphasized that the center, located near the intersection of Hickory and 14th Street, will be open to anyone in Abilene who wants to meet new people, learn new skills and use the workout equipment. “Some people think the center is just for those with disabilities,” Pam said. “When you think about it, we are all disabled in some way. We want everyone to feel welcome, have a chance to express themselves and learn from someone else…It’s about accepting people as they are – God’s children. To learn more about David and Pam’s plans, call them at 672-6482 or visit them at 1443 ½ Hickory Street.

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