Gymnast with special needs to be first to compete at a national level

Posted: Updated:
OCEAN TOWNSHIP -

A gymnast with special needs will be competing at a national level this weekend in Atlantic City – a first for the tournament.

Morgan McKinley trains at Ace Gymnastics in Ocean Township alongside two other gymnasts with special needs, as well as other girls in the program. Now for the first time the three gymnasts with special needs will be competing alongside the other girls at a national competition.

“[The parents] walked up to me and they said, ‘We want our kids to do more,’” says Coach James Craparo.

Craparo is spearheading the “Priceless Program” for the United States Association of Independent Gymnastic Clubs. He says that he is hoping that the program can go national.

"There’s always separation with everything and then eventually people come around to it and now it's time to include them,” Craparo says.

Morgan’s mom, Jennifer McKinley says that she is excited for her daughter to complete in her first event outside of the Special Olympics. She says that the instructors at Ace Gymnastics have been great with Morgan.

"They mentor her, they stretch with her, they teach her the good routines. They teach her basic gymnastics,” she says.

Morgan won’t be alone at this weekend’s event. She will also be competing alongside her teammates.

"It turns the gym into more of a family when you see them support everyone no matter what,” says Craparo.

The other two gymnasts with special needs will be competing in future meets.

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