BRIAR HUBBARD / FAIRFAX NZ
Bev Eastman is the driving force behind a specialty course at Franklin Gymsports in Pukekohe.
When Bev Eastman saw there was a need for a gymnastics class for people with special needs, she took action.
The Gymnasium and Special Needs Coordinator at Franklin Gymsports in Pukekohe came up with the idea for a new module, Discovery Gymnastics.
The module consists of three classes, which are aimed at preschool children, adults with intellectual or physical disabilities.
Eastman said the lessons came from a single student.
“We had a little boy with special needs who came to the school class and it was a bit too much for him. I had a gap so I told his mum to try a class. special needs, and wow. Her mom was upset. There was nothing like it in Pukekohe for them.
“It grew from there. I love the challenge, I love seeing them develop new skills, whether minor or major, and it is this confidence that they have also aroused. “
The classes, which had been running for a quarter, had so far received excellent feedback, she said.
“The little ones who go to preschool, their parents’ feedback is that they interact with their peers, they become more confident in skills and they want to go to the gym every day.
“I think they (the parents) really appreciate that there is someone in the community who takes the time to help their child.”
She said the same lesson lasted three weeks and focused on things like building confidence, spatial awareness and balance.
A class might see participants jumping in and out of a hoop, balancing on a beam, or down a slope.
“I love the challenge and I love to see children able to be successful and give them the chance to try these skills and remove that barrier, and provide that service in the community.
“It’s about repeating and building their confidence in me, so they trust me and we build a relationship.”
Cody was the kid who started it all. He is eight years old and has Down’s syndrome.
His mother Kathy said she had seen a great improvement in her son since he started gymnastics.
“It improved his balance tremendously. He was four when he started walking, his balance is not great. He has a wide stance, so the beam was really good, it closed his gait a bit more. The physiotherapist has wanted him to do something like this for a long time. “
She added that Eastman was a great coach.
“I was really impressed because it’s easy to call it a special needs class, but do it like the other classes, but she doesn’t … she really went out of her way to find information for his courses.
“I think it’s different from a lot of other things that we can do for them. It builds their strength, their muscles, their skills. It helps with everything, his ability to climb and his ability to walk, it’s fabulous. . “