A Facility for EVERY Ability
As you enter the doors of Santa Fe Family Life Center, you’ll immediately feel the receptiveness of those around you and observe the community’s full diversity. Emulating a cross-section of the district, you’ll see everyone from senior citizens exercising in the mornings to bodybuilders working with trainers, from pickleball players in the afternoon to youth basketball camps and Special Olympics tournaments on the weekends. It’s no surprise that the perception Santa Fe would like the community to hold is “a facility for every ability.”
Located at 63rd and Santa Fe, the facility was donated to the Knights of Columbus in 2007 by Aubrey McClendon, co-founder of Chesapeake Energy. Prior to becoming a nonprofit center, it was a private tennis club. It wasn’t until 2010 that the center adopted its current configuration as a multi-sport facility. Their mission is to serve disadvantaged youth and individuals with disabilities.
“There aren’t many opportunities for people with disabilities to pursue health and wellness,” according to James Timberlake, Executive Director of SFFLC. Realizing that wheelchair and adaptive sports programs were an immense need in the OKC area, the center made it their primary mission to provide an abundance of accessibility and sports focused on adaptive needs. “Not only are adaptive sports great exercise, but they are also very therapeutic”, Timberlake says. “To be a part of a team is also a considerable part of therapy to be able to build confidence and do tasks you never thought you’d be able to do.”
In the last four years, SFFLC implemented a strategic planning process and identified this as a significant need in the community. Timberlake said, “ADA is a great requirement and starting point for accessibility, but only based on population statistics.” They wanted to accommodate beyond the requirements. Along with making it more accessible for the disabled community, the facility also got some overall improvements. “It gave it a shiny, new feel,” Timberlake said.
To combat the issues faced by disadvantaged youth, SFFLC provides programs and scholarships funded through membership purchases. In addition to basketball and volleyball camps, the kids can access swimming lessons and water safety in the summer, providing education to some who otherwise would not have had access. As the summer months approach, picnics, games and cookouts are on the horizon for those with a pool membership.
Whether you’re interested in group exercise, tennis, basketball or personal training, SFFLC provides memberships that fit anyone’s needs. According to Timberlake, the tennis membership is one of the best in Oklahoma City because of the free court time provided.
After the COVID pandemic, it became even more evident that many took for granted having a place to go to focus on physical health and mental well-being. Timberlake believes that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial and is grateful to work for a facility that provides a safe space for anyone to come and maintain a balanced lifestyle, regardless of their physical or financial ability.