SUNY Cortland Helps Children with Spina Bifida Reach Their Potential
SUNY Cortland's Physical Education Department was awarded a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation in Fall 2010 to support a model program aimed at helping children born with a spinal developmental defect to realize their full physical potential.
Infants born with spina bifida, a neural tube birth defect that often requires intensive medical intervention, often develop motor skills at a slower rate than their non-disabled peers. Parents are often warned against encouraging physical activity as their child grows and health stabilizes.
Since 2006, three SUNY Cortland Physical Education Department faculty members have collaborated with SUNY Upstate Medical University medical faculty to create a model program titled "Fit Families Group Visits: Physical Activity and Medical Services for Children with Spina Bifida and their Families."
SUNY Cortland subsequently developed a grant to address the cultural needs of Hispanic children and their families with spina bifida. The researchers in the special clinic work with small cohorts of children - as well as their families, medical providers and professional consultants - to realize the natural inclination of youngsters to move freely, frolic and play games with other tots.
Physical education professors at SUNY Cortland worked closely with pediatricians who are faculty at SUNY Upstate Medical University and SUNY Cortland students to enrich a holistic model of inclusion for children with disabilities in adapted physical education.
The model program provides families with educational seminars for parents on topics that improve awareness, advocacy and access to community services; inclusive games and modified sports for children and siblings; individual consultations with medical and physical activity professionals; and opportunities for social networking for families participating in the program.