A program for unique children has come to Lexington, and it represents one of the best deals in town.
The Special Olympics Young Athletes Program, an international project for children 2 to 7 years old with intellectual disabilities, makes its local debut this month at Play Works, a pediatric enrichment center on Custer Drive.
The Young Athletes Program is an innovative sports play program designed to introduce children to the world of sports before Special Olympics eligibility at age 8.
In 2007, Special Olympics created Young Athletes, which debuted at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China.
Young Athletes now includes 10,000 children in 21 countries.
The program offers developmentally appropriate play activities designed for physical, cognitive and social development, focusing on foundational skills such as walking and running, balancing and jumping, trapping and catching, throwing, striking, kicking and more advanced skills.
“This is an opportunity for children to learn skills so they can participate in sports like any other child,” said Julie Stoeckinger Foster, the owner of Play Works and a speech therapist for 14 years.
“These children will get the benefits from sports that all kids do – working as a team, social interaction, physical fitness and cooperation.
“Plus, families can get to know other families with children with intellectual disabilities.”
The class at Play Works begins Thursday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m., and runs weekly for eight weeks.
And here’s the best part – the cost for the entire eight-week program is $5, thanks to sponsorship by Special Olympics, PNC Bank and the volunteer hours supplied by Foster.
Play Works offers developmentally stimulating enrichment classes for children ages 12 months to 8 years.
Classes focus on speech, language and communication skills, muscle strength and coordination, concept development, social interaction skills, plus occupational and musictherapy groups and academic readiness classes.