The Viscardi Center—a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating, employing, and empowering children and adults with disabilities—has unveiled its newly renovated John J. Gutleber Aquatic Center, which will provide high-quality aquatic physical education programming for students with severe physical disabilities at the Henry Viscardi School starting in Fall 2022.
Made possible by Castagna Realty’s contributions to The Viscardi Center’s recent capital campaign, the organization’s pool area was updated over a three-year period into a fully accessible environment, complete with a heated pool equipped with wheelchair ramps, lifts, and specialized walls. It was renamed in honor of the late John J. Gutleber, who was president and CEO of Castagna Realty and served on The Viscardi Center’s board of directors for more than twenty-five years.
“The Viscardi students certainly deserve this wonderful pool restoration,” said Catherine Castagna, President of Castagna Realty. “We applaud The Viscardi Center’s mission of educating, employing, and empowering people with disabilities. My parents, Rita and Frank, set a remarkable example for me, and everyone at Castagna Realty, on the importance of giving back to the community. The Viscardi Center has always been very near and dear to our hearts, and we have such enormous respect and gratitude for the amazing work that they do.”
The Viscardi Center was founded in 1952 out of a garage in West Hempstead and later moved to its current facility in Albertson in the 1960s, where it expanded to include the Henry Viscardi School, a traditional pre-K-21 educational option for students who often require life-sustaining medical supports throughout the day. Since that move, the pool has been an essential part of the school curriculum. The renovated Aquatic Center will once again enable students to safely enjoy fun, therapeutic aquatic exercise outside of their wheelchairs or braces.
“We pride ourselves on enhancing opportunities for individuals with disabilities and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Dr. Chris Rosa, The Viscardi Center’s President & CEO, said. “The John J. Gutleber Aquatic Center serves as a model of universal design that will introduce a uniquely accessible experience to our students at the Henry Viscardi School as part of their physical education curriculum.”
About The Viscardi Center
The Viscardi Center, a network of non-profit organizations based in Albertson, provides a lifespan of services that educate, employ, and empower people with disabilities. Its programs and services include Pre-K through High School education, school-to-work transition services, vocational training, career counseling and placement, digital accessibility services, entrepreneurship, and workforce diversification assistance to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and businesses. It was founded in 1952 by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. who himself wore prosthetic legs, served as disability advisor to eight U.S. Presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter, and became one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities.