“We all need to challenge ourselves in order to reach our potential. Our job as therapists is to to see that potential in others and encourage kids to try activities that are outside their comfort zones, so they will truly be all they can be. Any fitness or recreational activity that interests a child is worth pursuing for the benefits it provides physically as well as emotionally, cognitively and socially.” – Laura Znajda, PT, C/NDT
Children of all abilities should participate in athletic and/or recreational activities as physical fitness is important for ALL. Physical fitness, as defined by the American Physical Therapy Association, is “a dynamic physical state – comprising of cardiovascular/pulmonary endurance; muscle strength, power, endurance and flexibility; relaxation; and body composition – that allows optimal and efficient performance of daily and leisure activities.”
Participating in activities outside of a child’s comfort zone help support their emotional development. Trying something new can be intimidating and challenging. Keep the focus on what makes the activity fun and avoid getting caught up in the competition. Every child approaches new activities differently, but it’s ok to remind them that no one is good at everything. No one! You can help temper frustration by celebrating every improvement – no matter how small, and sharing your own example of a time that practice and persistence led to success.
Setting Goals and Staying Motivated
Community based therapy programs and special recreation can target individualized therapy goals. For example, a child with hemiparesis might be working on running in order to use both sides of her body more fluidly, as needed for natural arm swing while walking. A child with sensory processing challenges might be building the strength needed for wall climbing so that he can include this activity in his weekly routine to assist with state regulation.
Motivation comes from finding ways to turn therapy activities into games with friendly competition, involving the whole family and plenty of cheering!
“Therapy activities include dynamic warm-ups which may include animal walks, relay races, and jumping games; a progressive walk/run/bike program building up to increased time running/biking and increased overall distance; client-specific strengthening and agility tasks to target weak muscle groups and to promote the symmetry of movement required to efficiently run or ride a bike; and stretching to promote muscle flexibility and adequately cool our bodies down.”
– Laura Basi, Physical Therapist
Look for organized activities in your community that help bridge the gap between individual therapy and daily life. Here are some examples of upcoming events at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley that present ways for skills to carry over into home, school and the community.
May 6, 2017
Run for the Kids: Superhero Hustle 5K Run/2 Mile Walk
Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, Villa Park, IL
This superhero themed run/walk is a family-friendly event for all ages and abilities.
- Set a goal to run the race, roll or drive the distance in a wheelchair or take a few unassisted steps across the finish line.
Participants of the Hustle for Health community based therapy program are training to run all 3.1 miles of the race independently. The Hustle for your Health program began because many children struggled with the 1-mile run in their school P.E. class. A 10-12 week training program is intended to target running pattern and cardiovascular endurance so that participation in community run/walk events becomes a reality.
June 9, 2017
Golf Outing in Partnership with Freedom Golf Association
Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, Lemont, IL
Enjoy 18 holes of golf and help bring the joy of golf to children with disabilities.
- Try something new by learning the game of golf in an adapted golf clinic.
The golf clinic welcomes children of all abilities to participate in the fun with adapted clubs and equipment and 1:1 training from expert golf coaches from Freedom Golf Association.
September 17, 2017
2nd Annual Bike for the Kids
Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, Elgin, IL
Choose a cycling distance ranging from 12 – 100 miles or participate in a 2.5 mile family ride. Adapted bicycles and trailers welcome!
- Go on regular bike rides and train as a family throughout the summer.
All proceeds from these events support infants, children and adults with developmental delays and disabilities at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley. For a complete list of upcoming events visit here.