Kenny Kids kick, stretch, run and play as part of Special Olympics Young Athletes Program

Sporting blue Special Olympics Minnesota T-shirts, they bounce and kick, wiggle and weave – giggling all the way.

Eli Crandell puts a powerful kick on the ball and splits the cones, perfecting his kicking skills as he participates in a Young Athletes Program event May 9 at Kenny Kids rehabilitation center in Coon Rapids.Photo by Sue Austreng

Eli Crandell puts a powerful kick on the ball and splits the cones, perfecting his kicking skills as he participates in a Young Athletes Program event May 9 at Kenny Kids rehabilitation center in Coon Rapids.Photo by Sue Austreng

Nine Kenny Kids children weave their way through an obstacle course, kick rubber playground balls toward the goal, mimic animal movements and stretch and twist and reach and wiggle some more.

The two- to seven-year old Kenny Kids children were participating in a May 9 Special Olympics Young Athletes Program, the culmination of eight weeks of playfully perfecting skills like kicking and running, ball handling and balance.

This is the second year Kenny Kids Rehabilitation Center of Coon Rapids has partnered with Special Olympics Minnesota to host the Youth Athletes Program, said Sara Rohde, manager of Kenny Kids Rehabilitation Center in Coon Rapids.

“This gives the kids an introduction to sports, Special Olympics sports and helps build social skills, grow the community. The kids love it and it’s been really valuable time,” said Rohde.

Rohde reports that the Young Athletes Program is “a unique sport and play program for children with intellectual disabilities. The focus is on fun activities that are important to mental and physical growth.”

The Young Athletes games and activities help to develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination even while enhancing the children’s social skills and boosting self confidence.

“The confidence boost makes it easier for them to play and talk with other children on the playground and elsewhere,” Rohde said, and indicated that Kenny Kids would continue to host Young Athletes Program events in the future.

Summer classes at Kenny Kids

Kenny Kids Rehabilitation Institute in Coon Rapids is a department of Mercy Hospital’s Allina Health services and is part of the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.

Coming up this summer Kenny Kids Coon Rapids will be offering several classes.

Those include Adventures in Food, Let’s Get Biking!, Friendship Club, Talking Tykes and Pediatric Aquatic Therapy.

All classes are taught by Kenny Kids therapists who specialize in pediatric rehabilitation and are licensed in occupational, physical and speech/language therapy.

To participate, children should be able to follow simple directions and participate in a medium-sized group without one-on-one assistance.

If unsure about your child’s abilities, if you have special concerns regarding your child, or for more information about the summer classes, call Kenny Kids Coon Rapids at 763-236-7337.

To learn more about Kenny Kids rehabilitation Institute, visit www.allina.com/sisterkenny.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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