Sometimes something as simple as a swing set, monkey bars and a merry-go-round can be as therapeudic to children with special needs as anything else. The Portsmouth Area Ladies, known as PALS, saw the benefit of a playground for children in the Pediatric Occupational Therapy program’s Outdoor Therapy Play Area at Compass Community Health Care early on and financed a program that will continue, thanks to another $1,000 donation made this week.
“We wanted a rock wall, slide, monkey bars, even a garden,” occupational therapist Liz Legg said. “A lot of our kids have sensory issues, so for them to be able to do something with a garden, to get their hands in the dirt, it is beneficial. A lot of our kids are sensitive to things like that, but when we put it with something they might enjoy, it increases their motivation.”
The other benefits to the playground are coordination and balance.
Legg said those with sensory issues might be sensitive to any kind of rotary movement, such as is found on a merry-go-round. But if the therapist can work with that issue on a smaller scale, their systems can improve to where they can participate on things like rides found at the county fair.
“With the outside playground the sensations are increased like the light, the different kinds of sounds that they have to process being outside, so it adds a whole new dimension to what we already do,” Legg said. “We are really excited about it.”
“Betty Kennedy and I are chairpersons for a committee in PALS, called “Meeting Children’s Needs,” Julia Wisniewski said. “That is what we focus on – where is there the greatest need for children in our community?”
Kennedy was moderator of the Presbyterian Women of the Presbytery of the Scioto Valley back in 2010 when the need first came to light.
“We have a couple of big offerings that we do each year,” Kennedy said. “I decided there was money there that we could use for this. So we applied and we got a grant for $41,000 to begin this program and the Presbyterian Women continue to support the program along with PALS.”
What makes this years donation so special is where all the money came from.
“It came from our Christmas project this year. Our purpose is to give back to the community,” Wisniewski said. “We chose the Occupational Therapy again to help with the children and these are all personal donations this time. It’s an easy way to fundraise. You don’t really get out into the community and do it. You just put a box in front of them and tell them that this is our project and then three months before Christmas, everyone will put a contribution in. That is where the donation for the yard came this time.”
The Compass Community Health Care Center Pediatric Occupational Therapy program is a non-profit organization.
“We are billing insurance and everything else at this point but it is all non-profit,” Legg said. “We don’t make anything back. So it just goes back into the program.”
PALS gives two $500 grants each year to a non-profit through the application process.
PALS presented a check for $1,000 to the Pediatric Occupational Therapy Program at Compass Community Health. In the photo are L to R: Betty Kennedy, PALS; Liz Legg, Pediatric Occupational Therapy program coordinator; Julia Wisniewski, PALS; Gina Collinsworth, Community Relations and Development director.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.