By Alexis Young
This year, Kinder Kinetics, a class open to all majors, saw its largest turn out yet. Thirty-eight preschoolers climbed aboard buses from Washington West Elementary School and Montessori Southern Tier Catholic School bound for the Butler Gym on St. Bonaventure’s campus.
“As a Pre-K program, we’re not required by the state to have gym class,” said Cheryl Moore, a BOCEs teacher at Washington West. “We do get gym in our building two days a week for a half hour, but here, to have all the equipment and all the people who have the knowledge of teaching the kids—it’s a lot easier.”
Kinder Kinetics is headed by Dr. Paula Scraba, who took over the reins in 2007.
Throughout the course, Bonaventure students spend a total of eight weeks with children with disabilities from Washington West and Montessori. Students also take several weeks of classroom instruction.
“I know it’s a really great experience,” said Jason South, Scraba’s graduate assistant. “I know the [education] majors are going to get a lot out of it. We have stations for lacrosse, bowling, volleyball, running, throwing, shooting, and hitting in the second two weeks. The first two weeks they work on their more basic motor skills—moving arms and legs, walking on balance beams.”
In Scraba’s eyes, working with the children serves as a great learning tool for Bonaventure students.
“Bonaventure students get to see the significance that everything begins with stability, balance, coordination and laterality, directionality, spatial awareness and then can you develop how to run, throw, catch,” she said.
This program benefits more than just Bonaventure students.
“Our kids really enjoy coming down,” Moore said. “A lot of our kids come from less opportunistic families. They think it’s so cool to ride on the bus. We come to the big gym and it’s so exciting. It’s really a nice chance for them to get to do things that they would have never had an opportunity to do.”
Conor Robinson, who is currently enrolled in the class, shared similar sentiments.
“I think it provides some unique insight for interacting with children who have disabilities,” said Robinson senior human development and learning major. “You’re teaching them motor skills to help them learn and grow, and it’s really rewarding. It’s something that people could get involved with if they’re looking to give back to the community.”
Connor Selvaggi-Moore, a human development and learning major, took the class his sophomore year and has made an effort to continue his involvement by participating in the class as part of his internship requirement.
The students have impressed Selvaggi-Moore this year.
“I have to give these students props because a lot of them don’t come in with any teaching experience or coaching,” Selvaggi-Moore said. “They’re kind of thrown into 38 kids with disabilities. They’re all very patient. This was a very good year that we had. A lot of patience and a lot of kids who took it seriously so I’m pretty happy with this year.”