Children on the Go
Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students volunteer in a local non-profit organization dedicated to assisting children with disabilities to participate in recreational gymnastics.
Saturdays: 12:30-1:25pm (children > 8 yrs. old) 2:00- 2:55pm (children 2-8 yrs. old)
Our vision is to incorporate functional and interactive stretches to the gymnastics activities in order to improve the flexibility and range of motion of the children that participate in the Balance 180 Adaptive Gymnastics program.
“Every time I leave Balance 180, I leave with a happy heart. These kids touch your life in more ways than you can imagine. They remind you that with hard work, a little sweat and a big smile, you can make a difference that matters.” –Danielle Borglum, UF DPT student c/o 2017
What do we do?
UF DPT students have an invaluable opportunity to work one-on-one with gymnasts with physical or intellectual disabilities, helping them learn foundational skills on the vault, bars, beam and floor in a sequential, individualized process. Students help each athlete work at his or her own pace, help improve motor skills and encourage them to follow instructions and make new friends. No prior experience is required but each student completes a volunteer training session prior to volunteering.
In conjunction to participating in the Saturday classes, UF DPT students have a unique opportunity to design and implement an educational project as part of the DPT curriculum. The project is intended to identify and implement a solution to the identified problems. During the first year of the curriculum, students identify and address health needs and barriers related to service learning projects and develop the project design, implement the intervention throughout the second year and analyze and compile the results in the third year.
“Being a part of Balance 180 through Children on the Go has not only been a wonderful learning experience but an inspiration in my graduate school career. Working with children in developing their motor and social skills has been an irreplaceable aspect of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program here at The University of Florida. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this service learning program and acquire first-hand experience with children in our community.”
– Prtha Goldman, UF DPT student c/o 2017
“Helping at Balance 180 is something we all love to do and we are happy to spend a few hours of our Saturday there. I love the idea that the adaptive gymnastics classes we are volunteering with might help these athletes gain the ability to do something that they might have never been able to do before, or even just put a smile on their precious faces. While volunteering at Balance 180, we are definitely helping these athletes within the realm of physical therapy. Our professors and physical therapists from the area are there to help out as well, and it is a really great opportunity to learn from them while getting such a hands-on learning experience. However, when you leave the gym, you realize that there is so much more to it than that. I have also learned from these kids in terms of motivation, happiness, excitement, struggle, perseverance and so much more. I always walk out of the gym so happy and reassured that I want to practice pediatric physical therapy. It is such a great opportunity overall to be involved in something like this in the community because it will help us become better physical therapists in the future.”
– Ashley Gibbens, UF DPT student c/o 2017
If you are interested in finding out more about Balance 180, please visit www.balance180.org. If you are interested in learning more about volunteering with Balance 180, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.