SSU's Seawolf Fit Program earns 2024 Undergraduate Student Impact Award

May 7, 2024
Seawolf Fit group

Seawolf Fit

SSU's Kinesiology (KIN) program, Seawolf Fit, recently won the 2024 Undergraduate Student Group Impact Award with the American Kinesiology Association. The award recognized a student group or organization that made meaningful contributions to increasing the physical activity, health, and quality of life of individuals in their community.

"Our program is more than just a workout. It's a supportive community where individuals with developmental disabilities can grow, learn, and achieve their goals while leading a fulfilling lifestyle," said Madison Souza, who is majoring in Kinesiology at Sonoma State. 

Created as a community-based learning program in 2022, Seawolf Fit provides children with disabilities and their families with opportunities to engage in fitness and wellness activities under the guidance of SSU Kinesiology (KIN) student coaches. 

Co-directors and KIN professors Dr. YJ Ryuh and Dr. Poram Choi developed and have run Seawolf Fit for five semesters. The program serves 20 households and 35 athletes, with an average of three student coaches per athlete.

Praising student leadership team members Souza and Samantha Muniz, KIN Chair Lauren Morimoto said, “They have been stellar when it comes to translating the mission of Seawolf Fit into action on the ground."

The program’s emphasis is on practical applications of kinesiology principles, promoting wellness and inclusion within higher education while focusing on student involvement.

"Seawolf Fit rewrites the narrative of capability, regardless of an athlete's background," Souza said. 

Choi said the program is designed to promote health across entire families and encourages participation from parents, caregivers, and siblings. Yoga, strength training, and breath control are offered for caregivers to alleviate stress and promote their well-being. 

"So much work is put into ensuring Seawolf Fit is inclusive and serves the community. Seeing it recognized on this scale is truly inspiring," Muniz said.

As a result, the Kinesiology student coaches gain hands-on experience with diverse participants, including those with different disabilities, adults, older adults, and typically developed kids.

Seawolf Fit leaders agree that its impact extends beyond exercise and athletic skills. 

"During the program, the athletes learn communication, adaptability, and empathy skills that will aid them in future schooling and jobs," Souza said. 

With parents of the athletes also engaging, Choi said all household members are allowed to thrive.

"Parent involvement has grown, fostering a community in which they share experiences and support," Choi added.

Gaining valuable hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge from the classroom to real-world scenarios, students maximize their learning in coaching in Seawolf Fit. 

"As a student coach, it's wonderful to apply what I'm learning to real-world scenarios that help change the lives of our athletes and their families," Muniz said.


Media Contact

Janet Durkin