By: Dr. Jennifer Schachner and Dr. Cole Armstrong
As the College of Health and Human Sciences embarks on new initiatives to address the newly developed mission and vision, a lesser known part of the college continues to make a difference at San Jose State University and in the heart of Santa Clara County. The Timpany Center, which is an accessible physical activity and therapeutic recreation center, looks to continue its legacy of serving Santa Clara County communities and the students of SJSU for years to come.
In the Fall of 2009, the SJSU Kinesiology Department along with support from The Research Foundation, entered a partnership with Santa Clara County to manage the Timpany Center. Located behind Valley Medical Center, the Timpany Center was originally designed to cater to the unique needs of children with disabilities and was the vision of Russell Timpany, a superintendent at the County office of education in the later 1970’s.
Housing a 100,000 gallon warm water, zero entry therapy pool, adapted land fitness center, full sized basketball court, a classroom and large locker rooms, the Timpany Center now caters to a wide variety of residents from Santa Clara County and beyond. All of the programs focus on providing access to individuals who may be experiencing disability, mobility issues, advanced age or other health conditions that would require specialized equipment, facilities and staff. “The Timpany Center offers programming across the lifespan, and across a range of ability levels. There are no other centers that offer what the Timpany Center offers in Santa Clara County. The services provided demonstrate SJSU’s commitment to serving our community. They also are a place where our students learn, ensuring that we have qualified professionals who can continue to give back to the community once they have graduated,” says Department of Kinesiology Chair, Dr. Tamar Semerjian.
With swim lessons for all ages, land and water fitness classes, personal training, on site physical therapy (managed by Imotion Physical Therapy) and open pool and adapted fitness programs, the center has become not only a place for the community to gather, but an integral part of the Kinesiology program at SJSU and CHHS. Each semester, the center hosts interns from departments such as Kinesiology and Recreation and partners with Nutrition, Nursing, Occupational Therapy and others to support student and faculty research. Interns work one on one and in group settings to facilitate programs that provide in the field experiences while the community benefits from the knowledge and expertise that these various students can provide. According to Kathryn Dayharsh, a student intern stated,”As an intern, I have felt especially privileged to be able to work on my own course curriculum, and with the help of Dr. Jenn, I have seen that course become a reality that I am now able to teach to our members at the Timpany Center. I truly believe my knowledge and future career have benefitted from having this wonderful opportunity, and I encourage anyone interested in learning teaching skills to apply!”
As the center continues to adapt to the challenges presented by the pandemic, the opportunity exists to rebuild and grow new programs. With the availability of online fitness and wellness classes such as Stretching, Falls Prevention, Seated Fitness, Seated Kickboxing, Aerobics, Tai Chi, Seated Yoga, Band exercise, and Arthritis, the center can reach further into the community bringing wellness and fitness classes into peoples homes along with providing the traditional in person programs the community has become accustomed to. Program and Operations Director, Dr. Jennifer Schachner stated, “We have such a potential for growth with the further inclusion of online community programs, no longer are we limited to class sizes or classroom spaces. We can run concurrent programs in multiple areas of wellness not just through Kinesiology, but with our continued partnerships with Nutrition, Occupation Therapy, Recreation, Nursing etc. and have the opportunities to branch out with other programs across the campus. If we have learned anything from this pandemic it is that we are no longer constrained by what can happen inside the walls of the center.” Upon reopening (post COVID) the Timpany Center has plans for a dedicated teaching space for online classes using the newest technologies in video and audio equipment to continue to reach those in need. New innovations in fitness equipment that promote activity for all abilities and ages will allow Timpany Center to grow in new directions not only for the members, but help to enrich the education of students from various SJSU programs.