Martensville resident Lori Morphy is excited about a fairly new opportunity to Martensville. Morphy, along with assistant coach Johanna Clancy, who is a teacher, dancer and music instructor, and Mark Kurmey, the head coach of Tumblers Gymnastics, created a Special Olympics gymnastic program, which provides an option for people with disabilities. The program began in the winter of 2017, and in June of this year, five athletes from Tumblers participated in the first-ever Special Olympics Gymnastics fun meet in Prince Albert.
Morphy, who holds a Masters in Physical Education, specializing in Adapted Physical Activity, has been in gymnastics for the past 29 years, spending the last 19 as a coach. According to Morphy, these qualifications mean that she is “qualified to work specifically with people with disabilities to adapt and modify physical activity so it’s individualized and meaningful.”
The Special Olympics Gymnastics program is done in partnership between Tumblers Gymnastics and Prairie Ribbons Rhythmic Gymnastics in Warman. It is a combination of rhythmic gymnastics, which includes work with ribbon, balls, hoops, etc., artistic gymnastics, which consists of beam, bars, floor, etc. and rebound therapy with a trampoline. “We focus on physical literacy and skill development, all individualized to the athlete. We have a variety of tools that we use to make it a great learning environment while keeping it fun. Classes are structured but flexible depending on the needs of each athlete,” Morphy explained. “We talk to the parents and find out what works for each athlete. What works for them at school, what works for them at home and we use that knowledge to create a program that will benefit each athlete as much as possible. We have seen our athletes come leaps and bounds from where they began and it is such an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Amanda Kraft, whose daughter Kelsey participates in the Special Olympics program is especially appreciative to the coaches for the care and attention that they put into each athlete. “My daughter has a lot of trouble with attention and becoming overwhelmed. This does not deter the coaches at all. They are kind and accommodating to the kids and make modifications where needed to help them succeed. Steps are often broken down and instructions repeated so the kids are learning together, but at their own stages,” Kraft stated.
Currently, the program has space and time for two classes on Sunday afternoons, which will be adapted based on the number of athletes, skill level and unique needs of those involved. The next ten-week session will begin on November 12th. Ages 5 and up are welcome, including adults. Registration can be found online at http://www.tumblersgymnastics.ca/. For more information about the program, those interested can contact Morphy by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 306-292-0587. “People with disabilities almost need gymnastics more because it helps with strength, endurance, flexibility and body awareness. Gymnastics uses all of your senses, all of your body parts and that makes it so important for everyone, but especially those with disabilities,” said Morphy.
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Kelsey Kraft takes part in the Special Olympics Program at Tumblers Gymnastics with help from coach Johanna Clancy. (Braden Ottenbreit/MM)