Adaptive Programming in Chester County

The impact of these programs goes far beyond the fun activities planned. The Y believes that in a diverse world we are stronger when we are inclusive, when our doors are open to all and when everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. The YMCA of Greater Brandywine 

View All Adaptive Programs

What is the YMCA Open Doors Program?

For 40 years, the Open Doors program has been a staple of the Upper Main Line YMCA community. 

“The Open Doors program is truly very special. Adults with special needs can feel very isolated and being able to provide this opportunity for them to meet other people and to feel seen, I think it’s life-changing,” says Erin Lacotta, Director of Director of Behavioral Support and Adaptive Programming.

More Information about Adaptive Programs

What adaptive programs are offered at the YMCA?

Adaptive Dance
Ages: 5 - 9
In a fun and welcoming environment, students will develop their fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and mobility through the art of movement and dance. Students will learn the basic fundamentals, build confidence, make new friends and have a creative outlet to express themselves. This class was developed by Claire Jones, who is a certified adaptive dance teacher trained through Boston Ballet.
Location: Upper Main Line YMCA.
Coming to Jennersville YMCA & West Chester Area YMCA in January 2024! 

Adaptive Gymnastics & Tumbling
Ages: 5 - 15
Our adaptive gymnastics classes provide instruction for children with developmental and/or orthopedic challenges. The class, taught by a certified special education gymnastics coach, is small in size with a small gymnast-to-coach ratio.
Location: Oscar Lasko YMCA & Childcare Center.
Coming to West Chester Area YMCA in January 2024!

Adaptive Pickleball
Ages: 18+
Adaptive Pickleball Clinics help participants learn the game and make friends at the YMCA! Open to adults with developmental disabilities, individuals ages 18 and up will love learning the game of pickleball. All equipment will be provided.
Location: YMCA Pickleball Center at Downingtown

Adaptive Swim
All Ages
A fun, non-competitive aquatics program for children and adults with developmental challenges. Swimmers will explore abilities, develop skills and find the confidence to pursue goals. Skills and techniques covered in beginner classes include water safety, swimming, floating and submerging their head under water. Skills covered in intermediate/advanced classes include water safety, swimming, floating, backstroke and treading water. Advanced swimmers will also learn breaststroke and butterfly.  
Locations: Kennett Area YMCA, Upper Main Line YMCA & West Chester Area YMCA.
Coming to Brandywine YMCA, Jennersville YMCA & Lionville Community YMCA in January 2024!

Bumblebee Day Camp
Ages: 5 - 14
Bumblebee Day Camp is an adaptive camp for children with developmental delays and disabilities. With smaller ratios, this camp will promote independence, social skill development, communication play skills and self-confidence. This camp group will be included with their day camp peers whenever possible for activities including, but not limited to, opening and closing ceremonies, daily swim, arts and crafts, nature, music, sports and more! While all YMCA camps are inclusive, Bumblebee Day Camp provides an integrated opportunity for children who need additional layers of support or accommodation and who benefit from lower camper-to-counselor ratios.
Locations: Upper Main Line YMCA
Coming to Brandywine YMCA & Jennersville YMCA in June 2024!

Open Doors
Ages: 18+
A recreational, social night for adults with diverse abilities. The group participates in a variety of enriching activities both at the YMCA and through engaging field trips within the broader community. Meet friends, have fun and develop a healthy and active lifestyle - all while building confidence and self-esteem. 
Location: Lionville Community YMCA & Upper Main Line YMCA  
Coming to Brandywine YMCA & Jennersville YMCA in January 2024!

Respite Recreation
All Ages

Program participants will engage in enriching and intentionally curated fine and gross motor recreational activities each session! Activities will support social skill development, build confidence and self-esteem and promote pride and success through achievement while in a fun, supportive and nurturing environment. Our program is designed to provide a positive experience for children and adults with developmental and social disabilities while also providing temporary relief and respite for families and caregivers.
Location: Kennett Area YMCA
Coming to West Chester Area YMCA in January 2024! 


Additional new programming will be added through the 2024 calendar year as interest and enrollment grows. Questions about Adaptive offerings can be directed to  Erin Lacotta 610-643-9622, ext. 2126

Who do I contact if I have questions about the adaptive programs or adaptive offerings in my area?

For more information on adaptive programs, please contact:

YMCA of Greater Brandywine Behavior Specialist, Erin McDonnell.

Erin Lacotta

Behavior Analyst & Adaptive Coordinator

610-643-9622, ext. 2126

Erin began working with the special needs community as a young teen, helping her parents to coach Special Olympics teams. For the past eight years, she’s run the Open Doors program at the Upper Main Line YMCA. Now, as the behavioral analyst for the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, she helps to provide leadership and support on process and inclusion for the more than 5,000 children who attend summer camp and childcare programming offered at their local YMCAs.  



Can I donate directly to these programs?

Thank you for your interest in supporting these life-changing programs.

For more information on how to support adaptive programming or for opportunities to support the YMCA through estate planning, please contact the YMCA fundraising team at

What volunteer opportunities are there within the adaptive community?

The YMCA of Greater Brandywine has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, including supporting adaptive programming.  

Learn more today

What types of accommodations are provided for individuals with special needs?

If you are seeking specific accommodations for a program or event, please reach out to the Executive Director at your YMCA location or our Association Behavioral Specialist,  Erin Lacotta 610-643-9622, ext. 2126 .

What's the different between adaptive programs and inclusive programs?

Adaptive programs are for individuals with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities who choose to participate in activities alongside others with diverse abilities. We adapt programs as needed and strive to provide a variety of options for participants to choose from. Siblings and peers are encouraged to join.

Inclusive programs are for individuals with and without diverse abilities to participate in activities and classes together. These specific programs and events are created to provide an atmosphere where all can thrive.    

What if myself or a loved one needs an aide to assist us at the YMCA?

Your Aide Comes for Free
At the YMCA, we want you to feel at home. Do you or your loved one need an aide to accompany you to the YMCA?
We allow aides to accompany members in our facilities, free of charge.

To have your aide added to your membership or to join with an aide, you must visit your home branch. Be sure to bring the following with you.

  • Your aide
  • A photo ID for your aide
  • Your best smile - you and your aide will be photographed together for our membership records

Note: Free Aide Membership is only valid when escorting members in our facilities. An aide may not use our facilities without you present.

What membership options are available for those with special needs?

The YMCA of Greater Brandywine welcomes all with special needs, and is here to help you find the best membership option for you. Please visit or call your local branch--we're here to assist!