Caregivers create yoga camp for children with special needs
For 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”.
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.
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