Sports Program Mixes Therapy With Fun For Children With Disabilities At Marianjoy

Northwestern Medicine
Health and Wellness February 21, 2018
Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, part of Northwestern Medicine, is hosting a weekly pediatrics class for children with disabilities to be able to experience winter sports activities. This exciting new program incorporates activities to improve strength, balance, flexibility, gross motor skills, visual perception and sensory processing for children with special needs.

This course is part of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital’s Continuing Care Program for Children with Special Needs. Led by a Marianjoy physical and occupational therapist, classes feature adaptive sports to meet the needs of the participating children, while offering therapeutic strengthening and coordination in a fun, engaging way. The children are also learning about teamwork and celebrating each other’s differences, as well as about international sports competitions.

“During the first class, we planned a brief introduction about winter sports, but the kids were eager to learn more,” said Ashley May, DPT, pediatric physical therapist at Marianjoy. “There is a lot of energy in the group, and the kids are excited to try the new things we’ve planned each week. I think they also enjoy the social interaction and the fun atmosphere.”

Different themes for the classes, running from January through mid-March, have included making snow and snow games; simulated skiing around an obstacle course; and simulated ice-skating tasks.

Parents are just as enthusiastic about the program as their children are. “Gabriella's class means a lot to her and us,” said Julie Giralamo, mother of one of the participants. “It is a fun way for her to work with the therapists at Marianjoy and continue building up both her strength and balance, while interacting and having fun with other kids in the class.”

For more information about the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Program, please visit:

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