Tucked into a corner of the Kellogg Gymnasium is a room filled with colorful objects that help to change lives.
The Motor Development Clinic assists children 5 to 13 who are experiencing movement problems because of various disabilities. Every child who participates in the program is given a personalized plan to help them succeed in reaching their mobility goals.
Colorful balls, gymnastics mats, hula-hoops, and many other objects fill the room, designed to help the children learn in a bright, stimulating environment.
The clinic helps develop skills that many people take for granted, especially during childhood. Jumping, running, riding a bike, swimming, tennis and baseball are some of the skills children learn, with the goal of helping in daily activities outside of the clinic.
Twelve-year-old Victoria has been coming to the clinic since she was 4.
“Victoria was born with Down syndrome, so off the bat we already knew she was going to have low muscle tone and things like that,” says Nancy Espinal, Victoria’s mother. “It’s a complete package when you come here because they work on fine-motor skills, too.”
At her middle school, Victoria is mainstreamed in two class periods, one of them being physical education. Espinal says that being introduced to many sports at the Motor Development Clinic has helped Victoria with her confidence both in P.E. and in the community sports in which she participates.
“She can be active with the rest of the non-disabled kids,” Espinal says. “Because of working on the visual connection with the ball, catching and throwing skills, she has been more successful in playing sports with others out in the community.”
Espinal recommends that students start as early as possible so they can get as much help as Victoria has received.
The clinic changes the lives of its clients and staff members.
Fourth-year kinesiology student Katheryn Cerasuolo says that working in the clinic not only changed her life, but validates her career choice: she wants to be an elementary adapted physical education teacher.
“It’s an awesome experience to see them improve every week,” she says. “It makes you want to get up in the morning.”
Cerasuolo is an assistant, and she looks forward to being a clinician in spring quarter.
“I love it here. They don’t have many motor-development clinics that are actually on your campus for you to get involved in, so it’s great work experience, and enables you to give back to the community,” Cerasuolo says. “This is a place where [the children] can come to get that individual attention they may not be getting at school, and improve their motor skills in a safe environment.”
Kinga Matusik, a kinesiology graduate student, has been working in the clinic since 2010. She says that making the activities fun is a key element of what makes the clinic unique.
“These are amazing teachers providing outside-of-the-box thinking, where they make learning fun for kids,” Matusik says. “We’re working on dribbling a basketball, but the progression is really broken down to find out what they need to work on. They get to dribble different sizes of balls, and different types of balls, a funny feeling ball — whatever helps keep their interest.”
Matthew, 12, says he loves that he can now ride his bike around his neighborhood.
Matthew and his brother, Theo, have a disease that causes tumors to grow on their joints and limits their mobility. Their mother, Tracy Bartholome, who has the same disease, says she didn’t have nearly as much mobility during her childhood, and she knows that the clinic has made the difference.
“Without them, I know my boys wouldn’t be able to do so much of this stuff,” she says.
When he was younger, Theo fell and broke his leg. “He stopped walking for six months, and lost a lot of muscle in his legs,” Bartholome says. “We’re so grateful that he was able to get that back with their help.”
For more information about the Motor Development Clinic, visit www.cpp.edu/mdc or call (909) 869-4340.