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news News Friday, March 19, 2021 Friday, March 19, 2021 4:06 PM - Friday, March 19, 2021 4:06 PM

New program aims to help patients with cerebral palsy BFit

New program aims to help patients with cerebral palsy BFit

With his warm laugh and gregarious nature, 11-year-old Caleb has the power to disarm just about anybody – “even the neighbors who are known for being particularly grumpy,” said his mom, Amy.

He’s the kind of kid everyone wants to be around – but for Caleb, who has cerebral palsy (CP), getting involved with his community isn’t always easy.

A group of neurological disorders that affect a person’s ability to move, CP causes various symptoms – from muscle tightness and joint stiffness to tremors, lack of muscle coordination and difficulty speaking – that range in severity.

“In order for children with disabilities like CP to be a part of their communities, we have to give them opportunities to practice, opportunities to make mistakes and opportunities to interact with their peers,” explained Amy, who’s so passionate about advocating for inclusivity, she’s working to help promote school cultures where every student is valued and participating through a program called WINGS.

And she’s thrilled about BFit, a new program Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville (where Caleb is a patient) is adopting, too.

An individually mentored afterschool program for children with CP, BFit will provide participants with an opportunity to engage in socialization and physical activity – an often neglected, but critical, part of determining and maintaining lifelong health and well-being for those with CP.

“There are not a lot of chances for kids with disabilities to enjoy recreational activities with others,” Amy has noticed. But BFit aims to change that.

Slated to start in the fall of 2021 or spring of 2022, BFit will bring kids with CP, physical therapists from the Greenville Shriners Hospital and volunteers together for activities twice a week for 12 weeks, twice per year.

Because BFit is designed to help kids with CP feel comfortable in both their communities and different “wellness” settings, programming will take place in everyday fitness arenas – whether a gym or a local running trail – not the hospital.

“More than anything, kids are motivated by their peers. Caleb wants to do what other kids are doing, but he has cognitive and physical limitations,” said Amy, adding “BFit is going to be a safe place, a place where everyone is accepted – not judged.”

And in true Shriners Hospitals for Children fashion, BFit is going to help kids with CP be just that, kids.