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Pediatric Therapy Clinic preparing Special Olympians for future competition

Pediatric Therapy Special OlynpicsA determined group of athletes is getting a little boost from Creighton University’s Pediatric Therapy and the Special Olympics Young Athletes program.

A two-month clinic is aiming to prepare the youngsters for upcoming competition in the Special Olympics. Running Tuesday and Thursday evenings from Jan. 23 through March 22 at the Creighton Pediatric Therapy Clinic in west Omaha, the budding athletes have an opportunity to hone their skills in preparation for the games with the help of physical therapist Kayce Marsh, an adjunct instructor in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions.

At each session, Marsh leads a group of Creighton physical and occupational therapy students in helping children ages two to seven gain basic sport skills. The Creighton students are part of a new course, Interprofessional Childhood Motor Play and Development, offered through the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions’ Interprofessional Studies program. Marsh, who implemented the course and its relationship with the Special Olympics Young Athletes program, said the variety of skills students would gain from the course and working with students in a different discipline are invaluable.

“In the world of pediatrics, OTs and PTs often collaborate, and when working with a variety of skills it is helpful to have individuals from both areas to offer the best benefit to the children,” she said. “The intention of the course is to enhance their understanding of working with individuals from other professions and strengthen their knowledge of functional movements of children. The medical field is moving towards interprofessional collaboration, and that concept needs to be introduced in education.”

At a recent 45-minute session at the clinic, 11 children with hopes of someday participating in the Special Olympics receive uninterrupted attention from the participating Creighton students. They spent about half the session broken up in smaller groups in two smaller gyms. The children went through an obstacle course incorporating skills like jumping, throwing and crawling, then reconvened for parachute games and a goodbye song.

In Creighton Pediatric Therapy’s 4,300-square-foot facility there are six primary treatment spaces. Parents observed their children from a viewing area complete with a livestreamed broadcast of the entire session. Creighton students taking part in the course get an opportunity to not only learn and hone their skills, but to engage in fun, dynamic and meaningful service.

Second-year physical therapy student Maggie Chamberlain was drawn to the new course offering due to her love of working with children with disabilities.

“This program is a great way to gain experience with this population,” Chamberlain said. “Physical activity and personal empowerment are so important with kiddos who have disabilities and I wanted to be a part of this movement.”

Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.