Caregivers create yoga camp for children with special needs

Kids doing yoga

Two female physical therapists posing with a group of kids during a yoga classFor more than two years, Anne Schneider has treated special needs children as a pediatric occupational therapist (OT) at Trident Medical Center in Charleston, S.C.

“Pediatric therapy is the most rewarding, the most challenging, and my patients are the most fun to work with,” she said. “I get the opportunity to watch these kids grow up over the years, and, through our work together, see them become more independent and succeed in life.”

Schneider and her colleague Emily Szymkowicz, a pediatric physical therapist (PT) at Trident, saw a greater need for children with special needs in their community and they acted.

“There were seemingly no resources available that catered to a child with special needs,” Schneider said.  “So, Emily and I brainstormed ideas to serve these kids in our community. We decided to organize a free yoga summer camp specifically for special needs children.”

For the remainder of the summer, Trident will host three yoga classes for kids, ranging in age from 4 to 10-years-old, with special needs such as developmental delays, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and high-functioning cerebral palsy.

“Traditional summer camps tend to be a bit larger and have more people, so we wanted to keep it small as to not overstimulate our kids,” Schneider said. “Our goal was to create something low-key with a little easier vibe so they could enjoy it.”

The yoga classes are limited to 10 children at a time. The first session was held on Tuesday, July 24 and were attended by seven, young “yogis”.Physical therapists leading a kids yoga class

The children, who received one-on-one attention thanks to the support of other physical therapists at Trident, learned simple poses and breathing techniques they can practice at home.

“One of our mom’s from the area was really excited to have an activity with her daughter that’s similar to therapy. And the rest of our parents were happy to give their kids a sense of community, where they could be part of something positive.”

For both Schneider and Szymkowicz, the classes are a first step toward creating more opportunities for children with special needs.

“Many of our special needs patients watch their siblings or friends go to soccer practice or gymnastics, and, unfortunately, they are unable to participate. It’s either too hard or it’s too much for them,” Schneider said. “It’s important for them to have those experiences as well. With yoga, they have an opportunity to do something fun, be a part of a group and just enjoy being a kid.”

Anne Schneider is an occupational therapist at Trident Medical Center, an affiliate of HCA Healthcare and a member of HCA Healthcare’s South Atlantic Division. She works with pediatric patients with a wide range of developmental disabilities and diagnoses including sensory processing disorder, ADHD, cerebral palsy, chromosomal syndromes and fine motor delays.

HCA Healthcare 50th Anniversary
In 1968, HCA Healthcare was conceived by two physicians and an accomplished business leader — Dr. Thomas Frist Sr., Dr. Thomas Frist Jr., and Jack Massey. This year, HCA Healthcare celebrates its golden anniversary and the culture of caring established by our three founders 50 years ago. To help us celebrate our 50th year, we’ll share stories here that reflect HCA Healthcare’s mission – above all else, the care and improvement of human life – and our pledge to improve life and make history for the next 50 years and beyond.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

Recent articles