Nazareth College officially broke ground today on its $23.5 million Golisano Training Center. The 91,000-square-foot center will bring together the strengths of Nazareth College, Special Olympics, and the Golisano Foundation to create a new model of inclusion, fitness, and wellness for athletes with intellectual disabilities. It will open in Fall 2019.
Today’s special ceremony included Tom Golisano, Golisano Foundation trustees and Director Ann Costello, Stacey Hengsterman, President & CEO of Special Olympics New York (SONY), local Special Olympians, and International Special Olympics CEO Dr. Timothy Shriver. Shriver leads the International Board of Directors of Special Olympics, which serves over 5.6 million Special Olympics athletes in 172 countries to promote health, education, and a more unified world through the joy of sports.
Golisano is giving Nazareth $7.5 million for the new training center, which is the largest gift in the College’s history. This gift brings Tom Golisano’s support for Nazareth College to more than $12.5 million. In 2003 he donated $5 million to Nazareth to create the B. Thomas Golisano Academic Center. And in 2014, the Golisano Foundation donated $100,000 to support the construction of the college’s York Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute.
“It is very exciting to see shovels in the ground for this extraordinary new center, which will have an immediate, positive impact on people with disabilities,” said Tom Golisano. “I applaud Nazareth’s commitment to create a shared athletic space that benefits athletes of all abilities and advances the Golisano Foundation’s goal of fostering understanding, acceptance, and inclusion between people with and without intellectual disabilities. This Center will also reinforce and is aligned with our work with Special Olympics’ Healthy Communities, which is increasing access to health, fitness, and wellness for people with intellectual disabilities in their communities.”
The Golisano Training Center will serve several purposes.
- It will provide an indoor track, field, courts, and training facilities to promote the fitness and wellness of Nazareth students and student athletes.
- Nazareth College and Special Olympics of New York (SONY) are teaming up to create an innovative and inclusive center that provides a training and competition center for people of all ages who have intellectual disabilities. The Genesee region's more than 3,000 Special Olympians participate in 31 regional competitions annually. Appropriate space for training and competitions has been an ongoing challenge for Special Olympics.
- It will create opportunities for the Nazareth students to work with Special Olympics New York (SONY) program participants, offering health screening services and wellness programs on a regular schedule in a convenient location. Nazareth Health and Human Services students will gain invaluable experiences that will strengthen their skills and knowledge and help them become competent, compassionate professionals comfortable working with people of all abilities.
- On a wider scale, this exciting initiative aims to create a new model of innovation and partnership for Healthy Communities across the U.S. and the world, while also providing education for coaches, mentors, athletes, and supporters.
“At Nazareth, student athletes are empowered to grow as people and make a positive impact on society, with life-skills development, mentoring, and leadership opportunities through competitive and cooperative experiences,” said Nazareth President Daan Braveman. “Our students, whether playing on a NCAA III, intramural, or club team or engaging in a regular fitness regimen on their own, are committed to helping others and bettering our community. This new center not only will benefit our students’ health, but also will let them train and create an amazing partnership with Special Olympians.”
Nazareth has hired LaBella Associates, a firm with experience designing athletic facilities, to develop the project. This is the only building of its kind in the entire northeast being designed from day one to incorporate inclusion and engagement of the special needs community into the plans. Key members of Special Olympics, Sportsnet, and Kids Miracle Making Club collaborated with Nazareth’s team to develop facility plans. As a result, the building design includes features such as:
- Large flow patterns to accommodate large groups and those with alternative modes of mobility
- Family style restroom and open format locker rooms for improved flow and accessibility for people of all abilities
- Wall and curtain choices to encourage focus on activities and mitigate distractions
- Sensory room to help participants who become over-stimulated or overheated, a space that doubles as a dark space for concussion safety protocols
- Specific planning in layout and form of track to accommodate those who use wheelchairs and who have other mobility challenges
- Specialized equipment in the weight and training areas
"The Golisano Training Center is yet another example of Tom Golisano's generosity, kindness, passion, and commitment to bettering the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, said Dr. Shriver. “Tom’s philanthropy mirrors his business. He focuses on outcomes and return on investment, and this gift to Nazareth will be greater than the sum of its parts. Special Olympics athletes, Nazareth, and the entire community of Rochester will now have even more opportunities to improve their health, fitness, and well-being in an environment of inclusion and acceptance.”
Nazareth will focus on three of the seven disciplines in Special Olympics’ Healthy Athletes arenas, specifically:
- FUNfitness (physical therapy)
- Healthy Hearing (audiology/speech and language pathology)
- Health Promotion (better health and well-being)
Nazareth College School of Health and Human Services is well positioned to support the Special Olympics’ Healthy Athletes program with health screening services on a regular schedule in a convenient location, wellness programs, and coaches and mentors.
“This partnership will be a wonderful opportunity for Nazareth to continue building a healthy inclusive community, and in establishing the Golisano Training Center, Nazareth once again demonstrates its long standing commitment to encouraging and modeling community engagement,” said Brigid Noonan, School of Health and Human Services dean. The College also currently provides programs such as Kids Club that serves young children with special needs and Life Prep, which provides a college experience for young adults with developmental disabilities. These existing programs could also benefit from added and supportive space provided by the new training center.
Nazareth is uniquely qualified to achieve this vision as the only Rochester‐based college to offer an array of professional health care programs that includes nursing, physical therapy, speech therapy, social work, creative arts therapy (art and music), occupational therapy, as well as pre‐medical and pre‐dental. Nazareth is one of the only schools in the United States, outside of those affiliated with academic medical centers, offering a full array of on‐campus clinics where students have the opportunity to work with real patients under the watchful supervision of faculty members.