Be the Change: Teen holds weekly fitness class in Newberg to include people of all developmental and intellectual abilities

Updated: Oct. 4, 2019 at 7:11 PM PDT
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NEWBERG, OR (KPTV) - A local teenager who says her small town doesn’t have many resources for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities has made it her mission to change that, by creating a new, much-needed program.

Her actions are already bringing a wave of relief and support to her community and have earned Alexis Hayes the FOX 12 Be the Change award.

Inside a room, full of color, you’ll find people of all ages and all abilities, who are running and reaching for their own individual goals.

“I feel like a lot of the times we think of disabilities as something that holds people back, but with most disabilities, it’s something that makes them shine more,” Hayes told FOX 12.

She has personal experience with the community.

“I have two younger brothers with autism, and they’re my gateway into working with anyone with a disability.”

Hayes is only 19 and she’s already making big waves in Newberg, by creating the town’s first-ever all-inclusive free fitness class called T.H.R.I.V.E.

The class is for anyone with intellectual or developmental challenges.

“A lot of groups that already exist are age-specific or sometimes disability-specific. My goal was to get rid of that. I don’t want people to be grouped of by disability,” Hayes explained.

Besides being a full-time student, Hayes also works as a personal aid, which is how she met her favorite dance partner, Carolyn.

You could say Carolyn was Hayes’ inspiration, because before T.H.R.I.V.E., Carolyn didn’t have many options.

“We were driving to Lake Oswego once a week for a great class that we love, but it’s a long way from her, and Carolyn, besides down syndrome, also has arthritis so it’s really hard for her to move” said her mother Kristen, who calls Hayes a blessing.

“[Hayes is] going well above and beyond to make connections to make this something that’s going to thrive,” said Kristen.

For her commitment to inclusion and fitness for all, Hayes received the FOX 12 Be the Change award.  “I hope people get inspired to do the same thing for their community, because I think inclusion would spread a lot faster if more people were willing to do it,” said Hayes.

The free class is welcome to all, anyone interested just needs to register online first at, where you can also sign up to volunteer or donate.

Hayes plans each weekly class specifically for the people attending and hopes this is just the beginning.

To nominate a person or group deserving of the Be the Change award, please go to