Special Olympics Virginia (SOVA) creates opportunities for people with physical and intellectual disabilities to participate in sports training and athletic competition. Through its annual events, athletes get the chance to discover new strengths and demonstrate their abilities for their peers. SOVA was incorporated in 1975 and held its first summer games at Virginia Tech. Today, it runs state championships in 13 Olympic-style sports including basketball and power lifiting, with more than 10,000 athletes participating every year. The games also invite people without disabilities to serve as volunteers or audience members to foster a sense of common understanding, self-discovery, and community. To ensure accessibility for everyone, Special Olympics Virginia never charges the athletes or their families for participation.
At ComedySportz Improv Theatre, audience suggestions keep a family-friendly and fast-paced vortex of scenes, games, and songs spinning in competitive shows that pit two improv teams against each other. Inside the intimate, 100-seat theater, spontaneity rules as a referee moderates the all-ages-appropriate hilarity pitched between the Richmond Legends and Virginia Hams. At the end of each comedic duel, the audience votes for the winning team, sentencing the losers to feed the doves that live inside the winners' top hats. ComedySportz's laugh-masters also host regular workshops to teach aspiring yuksters the art of improvised hilarity and the essential virtues of spontaneity, risk taking, and engagement with the moment. Through scene work, ComedySportz games, and short- and long-form improv, students learn to keep audiences roaring in order to jump-start a career or become a more affable bank robber.
Chef Marie, or MJ, wields her cooking prowess through inventive catering services and cooking classes that span a variety of culinary options, from American and Italian fare to South African and Indian dishes. Each of her catering spreads uses a minimum of freeze-dried or premade products, prioritizing housemade dishes made with fresh ingredients. Marie’s one- to three-course cooking classes cover specific techniques, such as preparing seafood or blending sumptuous soups, as well as how to make specific regional cuisines from places such as Northern Italy or the southern portion of Antarctica.
The classes take several different forms; private parties with two to six people at MJ Creations Sweets and Treats, personal classes that take place in patrons’ private kitchens, and six-night group workshops, which also take place at MJ Creations Sweets and Treats. And during kids’ culinary birthday parties, youngsters soak up age-appropriate cooking techniques such as how to crack eggs with their feet.
From the passionate fury of flamenco to tango’s forbidden heat, the polished elegance of classical ballet to the earthen power of modern dance, the Latin Ballet of Virginia uses the expressive beauty of movement to weave the tales and traditions that are the heart and soul of Hispanic culture.
In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers aged 4 months to 12 years with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents Magazine.
Before beginning any sort of treatment at Simply Well, the ayurvedic nutritionists help attendees discover which of the three personal constitutions, or doshas, best reflects them. Based on the assessment, the staff recommends a naturalistic course of therapeutic action, shepherding clients through anything from weight-loss programs and management of diabetes to addressing chronic fatigue or arthritis.
Trainers lead boot camps and workouts, therapists organize personalized consultations, and nutritionists lead cooking lessons that teach clients which foods stave off disease and promote energy, or which flowers to plant around refrigerators to keep rabbit roommates away. This combination of physical activity and study aims to invest guests with a sense of whole-body wellness by giving people the tools they need to keep practicing ayurvedic lifestyles at home.