“Kinetic Kids Gets Special Needs Kids Off the Sidelines,” by Rachel Friedrich, SA Kids Magazine

by Rachel Friedrich, Kids Sports

“I don’t care if she learns any dance or not, “ said one mother of a 7-year-old special needs. “ it’s enough for me that she is able to put on a leotard and tell her sisters she’s going to dance class.”

That’s what Kinetic Kids, a nonprofit organization offering sports and recreation for children with special needs, it’s all about giving these children a place to go and fun things to do to make them feel like they are like everyone else.

Kinetic Kids was started in 2001 by physical therapist Tracey Fontenot and Kacey Wernli with their first T-ball team of 10 kids.

”We saw a lot of kids in therapy with nothing fun to do, “said Fontenot. “Therapy became not just something they had to do, but it was social for them as well.”

That’s when the two got the idea to start a T- ball team. Now, just three years later, Kinetic Kids offers 18 classes in a variety of activities. And 140 kids benefited from the organization in 2004.

The classes are held in various locations across the city, and Fontenot says They are always looking to add more locations. T-ball is held at UT Health Science; gymnastics, dance and cheerleading are offered at Flip City. Other gymnastics classes are held at Gymnastics of San Antonio. Kindermusic classes are held at Musical Arts Center of San Antonio. Additional music classes are held at Trinity United Methodist school. Other activities offered include art and outdoor explorers.

The classes are offered an 8 to 10 week sessions with each session culminating in a recital or performance to show their parents how far they have gone. Every class is instructed by therapist with local physical therapy students volunteering as assistance.

“These kids never get to shine,” said Fontenot. “Parents love it too. They get to see their kids doing things they never thought they would see.”

Kinetic Kids serves children with special needs such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, down’s syndrome, autism, brain tumors and cancers. Many of the children involved use walkers or wheelchairs.

“We try to maximize what kids can do,” said Fontenot. For instance, if a child has an ability at all to stand and walk, they encourage the child to do so, instead of just dancing from their wheelchair seat.

“These activities are great exercise for them,” continued Fontenot. “ special needs kids tend more toward video games than other children, because they can excel at those.“

But the benefits of participating in Kinetic Kids go way beyond just exercise and therapy. These programs can foster development of ink courage, confidence and self-esteem. Not to mention giving these kids plenty of pride and joy!

“ Now my child can go to school and fit in with her,” said one parent.

And there’s a networking benefit for parents as well. Fontana tells one story of a boy with a seizure disorder who participated in T-ball. His parents had to sleep with him every night to make sure they were there to treat an episode. After talking to another parent in the T-ball stands, they learned about a nutrient and available. They followed through, and now the boy is dramatically better.

Although, they are a nonprofit organization, all classes are fee based to cover operating expenses. However Kinetic Kids does offer scholarships.

“ We never want someone not to participate because of the cost, “ said Fontenot.

Kinetic Kids has given children with special needs the chance to get off the sidelines and into action!

Contact Kinetic Kids at 210–748-JUMP, Or visit their website at www.kinetickidstx.org to learn more.