08 Jan Sports class sparks a day of fun fitness and learning for children with hearing and communication impairments
On the first Tuesday of each month, Amazing Athletes of Eastern Oklahoma conducts sports enrichment classes for children at Happy Hands Education Center
BROKEN ARROW, OK – Despite physical and cognitive roadblocks, children with hearing loss and communication disorders at Happy Hands Education Center are performing incredible feats of athleticism by participating in Amazing Athletes’ preschool-aged sports fitness classes once a month.
On the first Tuesday of each month, Amazing Athletes of Eastern Oklahoma holds healthy sports enrichment classes to teach children at Happy Hands the fundamentals of nine different sports and other fitness activities through its structured preschool enrichment program. Using the facility’s space, children are challenged in their gross and fine motor development through the use of sports activities, age-appropriate sporting equipment, and cooperative play.
Amazing Athletes’ volunteer partnership with Happy Hands began in November 2014 when Amazing Athletes of Eastern Oklahoma owner Michael Amberg learned about Happy Hands, a center for families with children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or are challenged by other communication disorders, and the incredible need for curriculum and activities suitable for a deaf child’s unique needs.
After learning more about the full-time, year-round, early intervention center and its growing needs as a non-profit organization, he quickly realized how beneficial the Amazing Athletes program could be for these children’s whole body development. By instilling healthy habits, teaching teamwork and patience, and boosting confidence through non-competitive sports activities, the children at Happy Hands develop physically, mentally, emotionally and cognitively in an active and fun way.
Each month, Amberg and his team of coaches pool their time and resources to teach Amazing Athletes’ award-winning sports enrichment program to the children at Happy Hands at no cost to the school.
“We find volunteering at Happy Hands incredibly rewarding,” said Amberg. “We’re excited to provide an opportunity to help empower and enhance these special children with social, emotional, communicative and cognitive skills.”
In addition to the coaches having a great time, Amberg said the kids get the opportunity to experience activities that other children can more easily experience, like playing ball.
“They get to see that just because of their special circumstances that doesn’t mean they can’t play basketball or soccer or any of our other sports,” he said. “It also allows them to get moving, get active, work on motor skills, and exercise their brains as well as their bodies. Plus they get to have fun!”
During classes, Amazing Athletes coaches work with developmental experts at Happy Hands to conduct sports-specific activities, such as football, basketball, baseball and other general fitness exercises. With so many dedicated volunteers in each active classroom, the young students receive the utmost attention with each new feat they accomplish.
Executive Director Jan Pride said the children’s eyes light up when they are met by Amazing Athletes coaches and their age-appropriate sports equipment during gym time.
“So often children with hearing loss or communication challenges do not have full access to sports because of the language barriers,” said Pride. “Amazing Athletes not only provides quality, developmentally appropriate instruction and activities, but they work hard to bridge all communication barriers. The children have a great time!”
Amazing Athletes classes take place the first Tuesday of every month at Happy Hands. For more information about Happy Hands, visit http://www.happyhands.org/ or call (918) 893-4800. For more information about getting the Amazing Athletes program in your school or organization, visit www.amazingathletes.com/easternok or call (918) 407-3472