UC Berkeley to shut down personal training program for disabled students

Calvin Tang/File

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Update 5/10/2019: This article has been updated to include information from campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff about the Rec Sports Opportunity program.

After serving about 50 students in the past 3 1/2 years, No Limits — a free program at the Recreational Sports Facility, or RSF, designed to help students with disabilities — will shut down May 17.

According to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff, No Limits is shutting down because of a lack of funding.

The program is the only one of its kind on campus, according to No Limits personal trainer Rachel Kahn, and it provides undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled in the Disabled Students’ Program with one-on-one personal training at no cost. It has served students with a wide variety of physical needs and disabilities, as well as those with mental illness, according to Taylor Carty, a UC Berkeley alum who used the No Limits program as a student.

“Our school preaches inclusion for all, and while the training programs for the able-bodied continue to grow, the training programs for the disabled are diminishing,” Robert Paylor, a campus junior who benefited from the program, said in an email, adding that the program has helped him to stand up on his own. “I am beyond grateful for what it has done in giving me my life back.”

The No Limits program is especially accessible because it is free of cost, according to campus junior Lucy Eaton, who has benefitted from No Limits. She added that having a disability is “weirdly expensive.”

Such expenses, according to Eaton, include doctor appointments, medications, upkeep for her service dog, special equipment and transportation.

“It’s hard for any student to balance academics with work,” Eaton said in an email. “To add the limits and costs of a disability onto that, means that making this program free is the only way to make it accessible to the people it’s meant to help.”

According to Kahn, the cost of similar services would typically range from $70 to $150.

The Tang Center does provide some disability care, but according Carty — who currently serves as a research assistant and volunteer at the Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital — many of the its programs are targeted toward those with temporary injuries, rather than chronic conditions.

Once the No Limits program is defunded on May 17, there will not be any campus programs capable of providing students with similar services, according to Kahn.

Kahn added, however, that the equipment that students used in the No Limits program will still be available in the RSF.

Students will also have access to the Rec Sports Opportunity, which allows students to participate in fitness and wellness activities, according to Ratliff.

Disabled students are able to apply to the Rec Sports Opportunity program, but it is not specifically targeted toward students with disabilities as it seeks to support students from various underrepresented communities.

The program also differs from No Limits as it is fee-based, according to Ratliff. He added that partial and full subsidies are available to assist students with the cost of Intramural Sports, Personal training, instructional fitness and Cal Adventures.

According to Josh Lavine, a campus undergraduate who said he has benefited from the program, stripping No Limits is a continuation of a trend of cutting programs designed to support disabled students.

“This program was created because a lot of these students can’t work out on their own,” Kahn said. “This is such an underrepresented and underrecognized group of students on campus that is quite literally just trying to live a healthier life.”

Contact Mallika Seshadri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.