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Learning about Somerset Hills YMCA Program Saturdays in Motion with Jay Sgaramella

Mar 29, 2023

We had the chance to chat with Kean University's Associate Director of Athletics and good friend Jay Sgaramella about the amazing Saturdays in Motion program at the Somerset Hills YMCA for children with special needs.

HustleMania: Jay, thanks for joining us today and sharing your journey. Long time friend of ours, really a pleasure to learn more about your experiences. Can you tell us what the Saturdays in Motion program at Somerset Hills YMCA is all about?

Jay Sgaramella: Thanks so much for including me on your site. Saturdays in Motion (SIM) is a two hour free activity day set up for children with special needs and their families. One hour of gymnastics and one hour of swimming. Kids get paired up with volunteers and they get to enjoy the interaction and expose them to neurotypical peers who they can build relationships with and learn how to interact with them in a fun setting. This is a no judgement zone and kids are free to be themselves and parents do not have to feel uncomfortable that their kids are being judged or poked fun at.

HustleMania: That is so amazing, sounds like not only something the children can enjoy but also very beneficial on many levels. What was your personal experience with the program and how did it benefit your son Connor?

Jay Sgaramella: My wife Lauren and I could not be happier with Saturdays in Motion (SIM). We also benefited and have enjoyed the fellowship with other parents. SIM is like our community. Parents support one another, bounce ideas off one another and share resources. The first day we joined SIM we waited on line like everyone else and the man in charge, Art (Raynes), came up to us and asked our sons name. He then paired Connor with two young women who then spent the next two hours bonding with him. From then on they were paired together each Saturday and became fast friends. Witnessing Connor's huge smile each time he saw them just melted our hearts.

HustleMania: Wow, that sounds so special not only for Connor but for you and Lauren. So important to share these experiences in a community type environment. Why do you think this program in particular is so important for families with children with special needs?

Jay Sgaramella: This is a program where all kids are accepted despite any special needs they have. All abilities are welcome and treated with respect and a true bond is created each week. If our children were to go elsewhere, they might not be equally as accepted as they are at SIM. These volunteers are amazing. Art and his family have been running this event for 30 years for families like ours, he started this program for his one son who has Autism as a place for him to go and be accepted. So this is personal to his family and they treat all of us like family.

HustleMania: This is truly what it is all about, people who have the passion and the ability to create an environment for children and parents to strive. How can other families with special needs children take advantage of this program?

Jay Sgaramella: Sign up! Go to a Saturday event and get your child involved. It can be scary to try new things for our kids, but this program is free, which makes it easier to attend and not have the pressure of paying for something that your child might not like. All parents have to do is sign up on the YMCA website to get started.

HustleMania: All of these amazing aspects to this program and it's FREE?! That is really a blessing. Lastly, how can people get involved or support the Saturdays in Motion program at Somerset Hills YMCA?

Jay Sgaramella: start by donating. This program runs entirely off donations from the annual Donors from the YMCA and the many volunteers who give their time each week. If you're in high school or college and want to be a volunteer, contact Art Raynes at for information.

HustleMaina: Jay, we thank you for sharing about Saturdays in Motion as well as the experience you, Lauren and most importantly Connor had in the program. It really is quite a remarkable program that we encourage our readers to get involved with.

Check out Jay's Story here:

Find out more about Saturdays in Motion here:

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