Decker School of Nursing

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Balancing Act

HWS instructor helps others find balance through fitness

Binghamton University instructor Tina Fetten (in pink visor) spends time each summer teaching paddle boarding to children with visual impairments at SUNY Brockport's Camp Abilities.
Binghamton University instructor Tina Fetten (in pink visor) spends time each summer teaching paddle boarding to children with visual impairments at SUNY Brockport's Camp Abilities.

Teaching allows Tina Fetten to spread her enjoyment of fitness.

“I get to share the two things I love the most,” she says, “yoga and paddle boarding, with college students.”

The adjunct lecturer who has been teaching yoga and aquatic fitness in the Decker School’s Health and Wellness Studies Department since 2014 says when she focuses on fitness it’s about more than the physical. She stresses that a lot of our actions come from what we are feeling. She also says it’s important to notice how internal and external factors make us feel.

“I enjoy introducing [students] to both yoga and paddle boarding as ways of being active as well as creating that balance within, of their mind and their body,” she says. “We don’t just focus on physical activity in the department, we also focus on stress management techniques to help them get through their classes, through tests, interviews and jobs.”

Fetten also shares her passion of fitness with the visually impaired through Camp Abilities at SUNY Brockport. The camp, which has been operating for over two decades, is a week-long summer camp that teaches sports and recreation to children ages 8 to 18 who are visually impaired, blind or deaf-blind.

“It’s the one week a year when the athletes get to just play sports,” she says. “There’s no limitations; they never say ‘You can’t’ at Camp Abilities.”

While at the camp each athlete is paired with a coach who spends the entire week with them, helping to teach them the sports. There are also specialists, those who have a specific skill they teach. Fetten is a specialist in stand-up paddle boarding.

“My favorite thing about being a part of this program and paddle boarding in general is it’s truly for everybody and it’s independent,” she says. “You can sit, you can kneel, you can stand, but the power you get once you’re on that board and you realize ‘I’m not falling in and I don’t need anyone’s help’ it is so empowering.”

Emily Martino, a senior with a major in psychology and a minor in health and wellness studies, is one of several Binghamton students who have gone to Camp Abilities with Fetten. Martino says she had never worked with anyone with visual impairments before, but that the experience has motivated her to pursue a career in teaching the visually impaired.

“I was amazed at what these kids could accomplish with their other senses and it was inspiring,” she says. “Camp Abilities was one of the best experiences of my life. I am already looking forward to going back next year.”

Watching athletes push past their fears was an amazing sight says Samantha Karner, a senior majoring in anthropology. Karner says one of the campers asked her to paddle board with him because he was afraid. She says that over time his fears dissipated until he was able to stand on the paddle board.

“I loved helping kids achieve activities that they never thought were possible,” she says. “Making that boy happy was the best thing I have ever done in my life and I want to continue to make people that happy.”

Last Updated: 10/13/16