Recognizing the need for quality, adaptive, programming for individuals in the north shore area, H.A.W.K.S. (Helping All Wonderful Kids Succeed) special needs programs help individuals gain confidence, promote independence and responsibility, and work together, as well as nurture a healthy and active lifestyle. All programs are led by qualified individuals who help promote a safe, friendly, and supportive environment. H.A.W.K.S. classes offer a variety of accommodations for participants as needed, including reduced class size, increased structure, and individualized attention.

View a complete list of available classes below.


HELPING ALL WONDERFUL KIDS SUCCEED Join us for a full morning of programs on Saturday. It includes exercise, relaxation, and food!


In partnership with the YMCA’s H.A.W.K.S Program, Exercise Connection (EC) leads a class for individuals with Autism, Down syndrome, and other special needs. This highly visual, well-structured class encourages independence and enhances social skills while improving fitness levels. Visit www.exerciseconnection.com for more information on Exercise Connection.* 1:1 aids available for an additional fee.


Enjoy weekly yoga designed for those with special needs. Improve strength, balance, and flexibility while reducing stress. Practice guided meditation along with breathing techniques designed to calm the mind and body.


Participants will have a supervised period of time for a break, snack, and socialization between yoga and cooking.


Free for members! Work-out buddies is an exciting fitness opportunity pairing Y members who have special needs with a volunteer Y member. Two individuals would meet at a convenient time at the Y to socialize with a fitness focus. Contact Ellen Mirochnick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get involved.


MINIMUM OF 3 PARTICIPANTS Don’t see a group that fits your needs? Contact Ellen Mirochnick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about forming your own group today!

Special Needs Private Swim Lessons

Private swim lessons for those with special needs have been developed or children on the spectrum as well as all special needs. The lessons are based on the individual needs of each participants with water safety being the first concern along with clear goals and direction. For more information, please contact Missy Contri at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Special Olympics Aquatics Team

Join us for fun and exercise or train with us for competition. The North Suburban YMCA Special Olympics swim team competes in the Special Olympics of Illinois swim meet, offering our swimmers the best combination of team sport and individual challenge. • All participants for competition must be at least 8 years old and able to swim 25 yards on their back and front. • Friday beginner classes do not require the child to have strong swimming abilities as we will teach them safety in the pool as well as swimming in a fun environment. Beginner class participants can be as young as 6 years old. • Swimmers will be placed in proper swim team groups for practice. Practices occur Fridays and Sundays. • *Swimmers are welcome to come join us in the water to try the program. • Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for skill assessment and class placement.


The National Lekotek Center, a Division of Anixter Center, is offering a wonderful opportunity for families with children with special needs, ages 2-12, to participate in specially designed play groups. The customized groups will be facilitated by an experienced Lekotek Inclusion Play Specialist, and will encourage engagement, communication and interactive play with other children and families with similar needs and ages. Parents will have an opportunity to meet other families learn how to support inclusive play. Siblings included and encouraged! The 1.5 hour play groups will be held once a week for 7 weeks. Minimum of 2 families required to run. For more information about Lekotek, visit their website here.

Total Link 2 Community

Our friends at TotalLink2 Community, are joining the NSYMCA for TGIF! TGIF is designed for young adults, ages 18+, with special needs to enjoy fitness, fun, and friendship and activities the Y offers. TGIF will feature a group activity and include a healthy snack and time to chillax with friends. The friendly face of a TL2C community coach will be part of the fun to help EVERY one feel welcome. The events will be held once a month from 6:30-9pm, and are fee-based. For more information about Total Link 2 Community, please click here.