Adapted gymnastics provides outlet for children with disabilities
COLUMBIA- For children with disabilities, finding ways to stay active and participate in sports can be a challenge.
Columbia's adapted gymnastics program gives children with disabilities the opportunity to learn balance beam, trampoline, uneven bars, rings, foam pit and tumbling skills.
Jeff Krug, one of the main coordinators for the program, says having a space to roam is a game-changer for the children who take part.
"We try to be organized here to some extent, in that we have different rotations, but we also fit it to whatever the child’s needs are. So, some kids, they can’t follow directions as well, and if it’s okay with the parents, we just let them run and explore, and try things," said Krug, who also teaches in the health professions department at MU.
Krug said the program is kept alive by volunteers, many of whom are his students.
"When I first took over, we had 15-20 kids that would come, and it was about 25 volunteers, and those were just physical therapy students. Then we evolved by getting the word out to pediatricians and pediatric therapists and case managers in town, and pretty soon we’re looking at a list of about 100 kids," Krug said.
Volunteers say they enjoy the program as much as the children involved.
“It’s a blast. There’s trampolines, foam pits, what more could you want," said Zachary Dowdy, one of the student volunteers. "And the kids have a blast too, so it’s a really rewarding experience to come out here, spend a couple hours with the kids and have fun."
For parents of children in the program, having an outlet like adapted gymnastics can make all the difference.
"It is so important when you have a child that does not fit the mold," said Barbara Warn, who takes her three grandchildren to the program.
Adapted gymnastics is free and has more sessions opening in the summer. More information is available on MU's website.