(l-r) Turnstone’s Fitness Specialist Kelsey Church from Waynedale assists Deb Wagner.

A Fort Wayne treasure that aids children and adults with disabilities has a vital Waynedale connection.

The Turnstone Center, which opened in 1943, was originally a school for children and adults with disabilities. In fact, its original mission was “to provide therapeutic, educational, wellness, sport and recreational programs to empower people with disabilities.”

Today, it encompasses much more – especially since its extensive expansion two years ago.

The center, located at 3320 N. Clinton Street, opened its new Plassman Athletic Center in September of 2015. The expansion added 125,000 square feet to the complex, including an expanded health and wellness center, four wood-floor basketball courts; a 230-meter rubberized walking/jogging track; three new exercise rooms; an 18-meter warm water therapy pool; a doubling of the size of its current fitness center; and three new exercise rooms for Parkinson’s exercise classes and yoga classes.

People with a wide range of disabilities are welcome to use Turnstone’s facilities, according to Kenna Davis, Turnstone’s Communication Specialist.

Children and adult clients are served throughout the day, and partake in a range of therapies, including Speech, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. The agency even offers childcare for youngsters from ages two to thirteen.

The center also has available several adaptive sports programs, allowing folks with a range of disabilities to enjoy athletics. There is wheelchair basketball; power soccer – soccer played on scooters; wheelchair rugby and sled hockey.

Kelsey Church – a Waynedale resident – is one of the center’s Fitness Specialists and oversees much of that activity. Kelsey graduated from high school and was in the last class to graduate from Elmhurst. She has a Bachelors degree in Exercise Physiology. Kelsey worked at one of the local hospitals after graduating from Ball State University, but, after assisting with wheelchair basketball at Turnstone, she knew this was her dream job. So, Kelsey kept checking with Turnstone to see if there was an opening for her. She said she would be willing to work at any position, just to get her foot in the door. Two years ago, her dream came true. Kelsey commented, “There is not a more welcoming environment here at Turnstone. The employees here are here to serve and to make everyone feel like they are in a safe environment.”

Turnstone is not just for locals, they have played a part in world-stage athletics, as well. The facility has been a designated Paralympic Sport Club since 2009, and now serves as a full-time training center for the U.S. Men’s Goalball Team. Goalball is a sport similar to soccer in which visually-challenged athletes roll a basketball-sized ball through their opponent’s goal. Only, the ball contains a bell inside it to help the athletes know exactly where it is on the court.

At the Paralympics in Rio de Janiero last year – which were held concurrent with the 2016 Summer Olympics – the U.S. Men’s Goalball Team took home a Silver Medal.

Davis said, “Turnstone really is a one-of-a-kind resource for Fort Wayne.”

“We serve from birth to death; we serve people with physical and different disabilities,” said Davis, a former Turnstone volunteer, who’s now been employed with the agency three years. “There’s really no one else out there like us that offers the complete continuum of care like we do.”

Michael Morrissey
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Michael Morrissey

Michael is a professional writer and journalist. He attended South Side High School and Northwestern University. He has written for newspapers in Michigan City, Indiana; Pekin, Illinois; and Bradenton, Florida. He also has written for and edited websites in Florida and San Francisco, California. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer