CSUN’s Brown Center Celebrates 10 Years of Impacting Lives

Brown Center

Community members and faculty tour the Brown Center at the 10th Anniversary Celebration on Nov. 2. In the photo, one of the many community and campus groups that use the pool. Photo by Nestor Garcia.

When the Abbott and Linda Brown Western Center for Adaptive Aquatic Therapy opened 10 years ago, California State University, Northridge officials knew that the center would positively impact people with disabilities, but not to what extent.

However, on Saturday, Nov. 2, the center’s impact was clear, as about 200 members of the community, including donors, clients, employees and supporters, attended a 10th anniversary celebration of the program. Guests toured the facilities and heard from speakers, including Taeyou Jung, director of the Center of Achievement Through Adapted Physical Activity and Brown Center and client and benefactor Al Lapides, M.S. ’68 (Business).

“It was a project that I had envisioned in terms of making a significant contribution, but I’ve heard people say it saved their lives,” said kinesiology professor emeritus Sam Britten, who founded the center and served as its first director. “I’m so proud that is it really helping people.”

The Brown Center opened in 2003 as an extension of the land-based Center of Achievement Through Adapted Physical Activity, which has been providing internationally recognized adapted fitness programs for persons with disabilities since 1971. In addition to providing therapeutic exercise programs for individuals with physical challenges, the Center of Achievement also trains students as professionals in health and rehabilitation-related fields.

The addition of the Brown Center provided water-based exercise programs that give even those with serious or chronic physical challenges, including children, freedom of movement with little or no pain. This is primarily due to the buoyancy of water, which provides an ideal environment for the body to function with reduced gravitational stress.


Sylvia A. Alva, dean of the College of Health and Human Development, speaks to those in attendance at the Brown Center anniversary event. Photo by Nestor Garcia.

“The Center of Achievement offers innovative educational opportunities to students and expanded services to people of all ages with physical challenges,” said Sylvia A. Alva, dean of the College of Health and Human Development. “It’s a great asset to both our campus and surrounding community.”

The 18,400-square-foot Brown Center consists of a main 60-foot-by-24-foot heated therapy pool with two underwater treadmills; a 30-foot by-24-foot heated pool with a vertically adjustable floor; a 17-foot-by-10-foot spa aimed at helping those with joint and soft tissue issues; and a 26-foot-by-24-foot activity pool.

CSUN’s Center of Achievement serves about 450 community and student clients each semester, about 295 of whom are served by the Brown Center.