Rami Castillo Learns About Love From Down Syndrome Client, Starts This(Ability) Training Foundation Non-Profit
Two years ago, Rami Castillo started coaching a then 17-year-old with Down Syndrome named JJ, and everything changed. “I just fell in love with the way he does life. They say they have an extra chromosome, and it must be the love chromosome,” said Castillo, the owner of CrossFit Uncompromised in Lancaster, PA.
- “I realized that, ‘Yeah I can help people,’ but who I really wanted to help were kids with Down Syndrome,” said Castillo, who currently works with two teenagers with the condition, JJ and a 14-year-old girl. “I had never interacted with a kid with Down Syndrome before because in developing countries like mine, usually parents put them up for adoption,” said the Bolivian native.
- This realization also led Castillo to start a non-profit focused on providing fitness to kids and teenagers with Down Syndrome.
The details: Castillo’s application for his non-profit — This(Ability) Training Foundation — has been approved and he expects to begin operations this spring. He just started accepting donations for the programs he will begin rolling out the moment he gets the go-ahead.
- “I’m in the process of marketing and putting my energy into developing the programs,” explained Castillo.
- His plan is to offer both personal training and group classes to accommodate verbal and non-verbal clients. “Some kids with Down Syndrome, like one of the two I work with, can’t talk at all, so personal training is better, but I also want to offer group classes for kids who have the ability to speak,” he said.
- Notable: While working with his two Down Syndrome clients led to his passion to help this population specifically, he was also inspired by his wife’s family about the importance of helping those with disabilities. Castillo’s wife has two biological siblings, but her parents also adopted 12 kids from all around the world, three of whom are disabled, including one who is visually impaired. Because of this, Castillo is also planning to offer a class for the visually impaired once his non-profit is up and running.
One big thing: Since adding fitness to their lives, both of Castillo’s Down Syndrome teens have seen significant health gains.
- “There are all kinds of health issues that go along with this condition…and since they have been training with me, their (health markers) get better and better every month. Like their blood pressure and their heart rate. Their doctors are saying they’re both seeing really good results and that whatever they’re doing is really good,” Castillo said.
The big picture: The results Castillo has seen with his two pupils has only solidified what he already knew: This population needs accessible fitness services.
- “They’re seeing such good results, and you can really see how the lack of fitness had affected them before, and that’s because of how hard it is to find an inclusive place where they can move for life and longevity. There just aren’t that many trainers who know how to apply their knowledge to this specific condition,” he said.
- Castillo added: “I was placed in this world to help them live longer, be healthy, and (to) create awareness. I believe the world would be a much better place if everyone would be willing to spend time with an individual with Down Syndrome. Maybe we can even learn a thing or two about kindness and empathy.”
Donate to Castillos non-profit here.