Vancouver Phoenix Gymnastics: A safe space for kids with special needs

Finding fun outside of the home can be difficult for children with special needs and their families. Thankfully, Vancouver Phoenix Gymnastics gives kids with special needs and disabilities the perfect place to learn and play.

The Therapeutic Gymnastics Program offers two types of programming for children with special needs - one-on-one coaching within the recreational program classes, and private lessons.

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“We always have an assessment process before any kids come into the program” says Alyssa Quattrociocchi, the Special Needs Lead Coach. “And that gives me a good idea of whether one-on-one support within a class, or private lessons would be optimal.”

The placement depends not only on the abilities of the child but also what the goals for the child are, Quattrociocchi explains – whether the focus is socialization and interaction with other children, or developing gross motor skills, improving physical literacy, etc. Students can also combine the two options – join a class with a one-on-one coach one day, and have a private lesson later in the week.

The program, which started more than a decade ago, provides opportunities for children ages three to 18 with a range of diagnoses, including ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental delay, Cerebral Palsy, paralysis and more. Some have been with the program for more than 10 years, according to Quattrociocchi.

Highlighted by Quattrociocchi is the transition from private lessons to supported participation in a group class. There are many challenges to joining a class, she says, and for those with a goal of improvements in socialization, this is an exciting accomplishment.

“The progressions that we have seen,” Quattrociocchi says, “in children who were initially too overloaded with sensory information to even enter the gym, to being able to participate in a class with other children is a truly rewarding transition to be a part of.”

The gym itself can be challenging for some children, and it can take awhile to adjust, she adds.  “Our gym is very big, bright, and there can be lots of children, staff and coaches around,” she explains. “This is an overwhelming environment for anyone, particularly children with diagnoses that make this challenging.”

Vancouver Phoenix Gymnastics prides itself on how safe and welcomed the children feel by the coaches, Quattrociocchi says.

 “We had one [student in our program] who said Vancouver Phoenix Gymnastics is the one place where he feels comfortable to be himself,” she says.

For more information on the Therapeutic Gymnastics Program, contact them by email or check out their website.  Vancouver Phoenix Gymnastics Millennium Sports Facility is at 4588 Clancy Loranger Way, and St. James Community Center 3214 West 10th Avenue in Vancouver. Phoenix Gymnastics can also be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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