Recreational and adaptive gymnastics for kids

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The People of Balance 180: Emily Reid

When Emily Reid was a gymnast, she loved to win. She liked to travel to meets, spray her hair with glitter, pull on her shiny leotard and compete to the best of her ability. She enjoyed the thrill of watching her scores improve every meet, knowing that all of her hard work and sacrifices were paying off.

Flash forward to today, and Emily Reid has enjoyed being a gymnastics coach for the last ten years. She is currently one of Balance 180’s competitive coaches, and she also previously served as the head coach for our Adaptive Gymnastics program several years ago. She still likes to win, but her philosophy has evolved over the years. As a coach and prior gymnast, she understands the stressors, mental battles, and obstacles that many gymnasts face.

“The sport is a disciplined sport, and it always will be, but it’s important to understand that the expectation isn’t to be perfect – it’s to get better and to grow.”

Emily believes that gymnastics is a gateway to teaching other life skills. She thinks it’s essential to run a disciplined class where athletes are motivated to grow and push themselves but also to maintain a balance and incorporate elements of fun. Emily understands that as a coach, you have the ability to impact so many athletes lives and your role is critical as the young athletes develop. She tries to find the joy in all aspects of life and serve others.

“I try to pour into people every day. And that’s for everyone in every situation: gymnastics, in school and life.”

Her passion for working with children who have special needs developed in high school. She participated in the ESE (Exceptional Student Education) program where she got to exercise and engage with children with mental and physical disabilities. She immediately enjoyed the interactions and understood that what these kids wanted was to be accepted and make friends like everyone else. When Emily went to college, she discovered the field of occupational therapy and was set on a course that would ultimately become her profession.

Balance 180’s Adaptive Gymnastics program was a big part of Emily’s life because it sealed her decision to pursue her master’s in occupational therapy (Emily graduated in 2017). Emily was passionate about growing an adaptive gymnastics program and giving kids with special needs the opportunity to enjoy the sport that she loved as a child. Emily notes the importance of a program that brings together children with special needs who can benefit from community resources and still get that experience like any other typically developing child. Today, she even teaches her pediatric patients how to do a cartwheel because she believes in making skill progressions fun.

“I use my gymnastics background to make occupational therapy more fun and more meaningful while working on the patients’ goals.”

Emily’s advice to anyone who wants to pursue a degree in physical or occupational therapy, speech therapy or any other health profession is to volunteer in the adaptive program where students get hands-on training as they lead athletes in an activity. There are few places where students can learn and have fun at the same time, all while making a difference in the community. As to her advice to parents, gymnastics is a beautiful way for kids to learn both motor and life skills, make friends and have FUN!

Written by: Julie Walter 


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