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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Minnesota State Mankato students engage in classes to help train children

Athletic program, which began last year, is part of a nationwide effort to get more young children involved in Special Olympics because most partici­pants are adults.

2012-03-01
By Amanda Dyslin, Mankato Free Press



B
lake Pribyl is one determined 4­ year-old.

Balancing a bean bag on his head?

No sweat. Balancing a bean bag on his head while simultaneously attempting to trap a ball under his right foot? Tricky.

Very, very tricky.   

Minnesota State University, Mankato student Nick Yenser worked with Pribyl on this very skill over and over again recently in a Highland North room on campus.

Yenser was accompanied by various other students, majoring in such fields as communication disorders, special education, exercise science, health and adapted physical education. And those students were joined by preschool and elementary-age children for a program intended to train youngsters — accom­panied by their siblings — to become involved in Special Olympics.

The athletic program, which began last year, is part of a nationwide effort to get more young children involved in Special Olympics because most partici­pants are adults. 

Sherry Folsom-Meek, an MSU instructor of adapted physical education who helps facilitate the program in Mankato, said the weekly sessions (which last eight weeks at a stretch) aim to help children with object control, balance and physical education activities, such as Blake’s balltrapping exercise. 

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Photo by Pat Christman
Nick Yenser works with Blake Pribyl, 4, on balancing a bean bag on his head while trapping a ball beneath his foot. Blake doesn’t have a cognitive impairment, but part of the MSU program is to invite siblings of children with disabilities to participate in the classes.    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

“You’ve got to get in front of the ball. Can you trap the ball with your foot?” Yenser coached, as Blake let the bean bag fall off his head so he could pounce on the ball with both hands. “You’ve worked out a new move: the hand trap. ... You’d be a good goalie.”

Blake attends the weekly sessions with his brother, 7-year-old Grant, who is on the autism spectrum.   Jeff Pribyl, the boys’ dad, said he’s seen improvements in Grant’s hand- eye coordination, among other things, in the weeks they have attended.

“I’ve seen improvements in some social skills (and) in learning to take turns,” he said.

Karen Wright, the boys’ mom, said the program helps foster Grant’s competitive nature in a positive way. And it helps him develop team skills and good sportsmanship.

The program is about halfway through its eightweek run, but parents may bring their children at any point during the eight-week period, which ends March 21.

To see the entire story or to learn more about this program, go to www.mankatofreepress.com.

 

 

 

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