YSN Special Needs

YSN Middle School & Teen Programs

We offer the below programs for middle school age and teenage youth with special needs.

Theater Games Workshop (Ages 14+)

Join us for this fun drop in workshop where everyone can participate! This class focuses on social interaction, creative expression and group cooperation. Participants will gather first to have dinner together to socialize. Utilizing different games and exercises, individuals will be actively engaged in learning how to pantomime and use gestures to communicate ideas. Then as a group, participants will act out different scenarios together.

Teen Gym and Swim (Ages 13+)

A combination gymnastics and swim program for teenagers with special needs! The program will begin in Higgins Gym where participants will get to swing, climb, bounce, and roll! Then off to the Rec. Pool for swim time. Teens must be able to swim independently. Note: During the renovation of the Rec. Pool, the swim portion of the class will utilize the Valles Pool.

Teen Yoga (Ages 12+)

Specifically designed for middle and high school students with special needs, the class offers therapeutic, yet fun, approach to yoga and tai chi! Sessions focus on breathing, gentle poses, and balanced movements to music, safe stretching and relaxation, while offering participants the opportunity to move their bodies safely in conscious ways to enhance physical and emotional balance, body awareness, and self-confidence.

Teen Scene (Ages 13+)

Middle school and high school: Looking for something fun to do with other teens during the week? How about dinners and evening trips out, activities at the Outback Teen Center and special events at the YMCA? Teen Scene is an ideal opportunity for teenagers with special needs to partake in social experiences with other teenagers and peers. Program runs for eight weeks each session.

TLC Salamander (14-25)


This is a “bridging” class especially for children with special needs who are ready to be introduced to a regular swim lesson format. All children must be evaluated by the Aquatics Department prior to registering to determine if this is the appropriate class for them. The class ratio will be 1 instructor to 3 children. Registration will not be accepted without Director’s approval.

Youth Fitness (Ages 12+)

This program is led by a certified personal trainer and teaches the basic principles of strength, endurance, and muscle conditioning while having fun exercising and socializing with friends.

Y-Tunes (Ages 10+)

Y-Jam is a music therapy program designed for kids 10 years and older with special needs. Led by a certified music therapist from Arts for Healing, Y-Jam is an upbeat, interactive pop music program incorporating movement, socialization, singing, and playing instruments.

New Canaan Y “Wildcats” Sports

Join the fun of playing team sports with the Wildcats. Specifically designed for our kids with special needs and their typical peer buddies. Together they learn the fundamentals of playing a team sport in a fun and non-competitive format. Join us in the Winter for Wildcats Basketball and an end of the season Unified Sports tournament at St. Luke’s school. New this spring the Wildcats will  play golf and lacrosse here at the Y and scrimmage with other town recreation teams.

Martial Arts/Tai Chi

This program is designed to introduce kids to the ancient art of tai chi and martial arts together through a fun and rewarding experience. Each class focuses on the principles of discipline, self-control and stress relief through breathing and stretching exercises. Learn effective self-defense techniques utilizing punches and kicks and combine these new skills into an effective strength and conditioning workout.

Cardio Dance

This modern dance program is an exciting way to exercise while having fun learning to dance! Each class will begin with a warm up of freestyle dance and then work on dance routines to music. The class ends with a cool down and a stretch. Its 45 minutes of fun filled movement!

Family Explorer Bears (Ages 5-12)

This program is designed especially for families with young children with special needs to have fun together in the Higgins Gym. Children will be encouraged to play actively and will have opportunities to interact with their environment (i.e.- swings, trampolines, bouncy house) explore their senses, and work on core strength, balance and social skills.

Buddy Mentor Program (Ages 12+)

This new program provides teens and young adults with special needs the opportunity to partner with high school students and complete community service. Working with the town and other local non-profits we will set joint goals to complete community service projects at the Y and within the New Canaan community, and plan special social events of interest to the group (i.e.: special dinner out or pool party). If you are looking for leadership opportunities and to make new friends this is a great program for you!

Science of Cooking (Ages 12+)

Join this unique class as we explore the fun of science and cooking together. Using common house hold items and easy recipes we will make a new concoction each week, discuss the process and results. Some weeks we will explore science experiments and other activities will be cooking and some projects will include both!