BOONSBORO, Md. (WDVM) — After noticing a lack of gymnastics programs for children with disabilities, a local gym in Boonsboro, Maryland, is leaping at the opportunity to offer a new program specifically tailored to those children.
The new program at Splits Gymnastics will be lead by Kelly Hall, a special needs teacher in the Frederick County Public School System. As a parent to 3 children with disabilities, she knows the roadblocks some families have experienced. She explained the program is based on the need for inclusivity.
“We want to make sure that anybody who is developmentally, again, physically, socially, emotionally delayed. We want them to know that they are not cast out, that there’s opportunities for them,” Hall said.
She explained gymnastics is a great resource to special needs teachers because it correlates with occupational therapy. It also creates the opportunity to help the children develop fine and gross skills and to find accomplishment in what they do.
I feel that for a child, especially with a physical, emotional, or social delay, they need to be able to thrive in a society that doesn’t fit them,” Hall explained. “In order to be able to bring as much normalcy to their development and their interactions with people, the best way to do that is through any kind of extracurricular activity.”
Ashley Stanley brought her two children, 11-year-old Aubrey and 5-year-old Mark Stotler, to the class after struggling to find any programs tailored to their different age groups. She explained the only program she could find designed for children with disabilities was the local Special Olympics program.
“The only thing we had found was something for Aubrey, which was relatively new in the past couple of years, and it was cheerleading. We have not found anything at all from Mark,” Stanley said.
Stanley also explained her son, Mark, was not very excited for the gymnastics class leading up to the experience. However, she knew that he would enjoy the experience and was overjoyed to see him running around the gym, trying everything from walking on the balance beams to jumping into the foam pit.
“So to see him in this environment finally getting to run around and do something like this, it’s better than I thought it would be,” Stanley said. “He’s almost six, so for him to get to experience something like this, for kids like him, finally for the first time, makes me really happy.”
Splits Gymnastics will begin classes specifically tailored to children with disabilities on June 19th. This will run alongside their other programs.
For more information on programs, including the adaptive gymnastics classes on the Splits Gymnastics website.