Angela is involved with a lot of different activities. All my kids were. When I had 5 kids in the house, and lived an hour from everything (even the nearest grocery store was 1/2 hr away) I made a point of keeping my kids active. On the weekends and during the summer months, the TV was turned off at 10:00 a.m. The kids didn't usually get up till around 8:30 or 9 anyway, so they didn't get much, and then it couldn't be turned on again until 6:00 pm. But, during the summer the kids were rarely in the house before dark. On school nights the TV couldn't be turned on until after dinner, and then only those who's homework was done could watch it.
All my boys, even the skinny scrawny ones, played football. Some played for only a year, and others played for several. All played baseball for several years too. Tyler was in gymnastics (on a team that was an hour away, since boys teams were VERY difficult to find!) and we traveled all over the 5 state area for meets. I don't know how I managed all this with all the boys, but I did. Their dad never went to games or tournaments, nor did he get to any practices, so I must have been spread pretty thin. LOL
My goal wasn't to keep my kids busy, my goal was to keep them ACTIVE. Yeah, they could go out in the yard and toss a ball around, but we lived way out in the country with only a couple neighbors, and they wanted to play organized sports. I'm all in favor of trying out lots of different things while a kid finds their niche. You never know if you like/dislike something until you give it a try. We always had a rule though, that if they joined a team, they had to play the full season. No quitting 1/2 way through. You joined a team and made a commitment, and now the team is counting on you. No quitting...follow through and then don't sign up again next season!
So, with Angela being the only kid left at home, it seems like a piece of cake to have her involved in stuff. I'm even more determined to keep Angela active than I was my boys. Most people with Down Syndrome have a tendency to put on weight quickly and easily. There are a few who will remain thin and in good shape, but the majority will gain quickly once puberty sets in, and Angela is no exception. It's up to me to keep her active and healthy. I mean, left to her own devices she's sit in front of the TV 24/7, getting up once in awhile to act out the show. If I don't keep her active now, obesity lurks around the corner in her teens.
So what do we do to keep her active?
First, she swims at least 3 times per week, sometimes 5 depending upon how busy our week is. She doesn't always want to go. In fact, she almost always says, "Lets skip it tonight." Unfortunately for her, she doesn't get that option. No, MOM says we're going swimming, so lets go! Sometimes I have to use a lot of humor to get her into the car, and sometimes I have to bribe her, and sometimes it's really a lot of work to get her going, but never ever ever will I give in to the "lets skip it", because if I cave once, it will forever be a problem. (Besides, I don't always feel like working out, and I've caved to myself and look where THAT got me! LOL I don't want Angela to develop the same bad habits.) But once we're in the car, she's all smiles, and she LOVES to swim. When Angela swims, she doesn't just sit in the water. No, her coach has her doing laps either with a kick board or swimming one of the strokes she's working on. Then the last 15 minutes she gets play time. Her coach doesn't charge a penny, and is at the pool 7 days a week. I'm always amazed that this gift is available to us. It takes far more effort on my part than it ever did for my boys, but isn't Angela worth that? Isn't her health worth it? Besides, it's FREE! How often does something like that get handed to you???? I would be doing my kid a disservice by not taking accessing it.
Another activity Angela is in is SOS players, which is a theater group. This is a wonderful social activity for her, and yet at the same time she's learning incredible theatrical skills. She's learning to speak in front of an audience. She's learning to use her imagination (well, she doesn't really need any practice with THAT, but it's definitely an outlet for it. LOL) and she's learning even more independence. All that, for only $50 per YEAR.
Voice lessons is another activity Angela goes to. When I first got her into this, I thought, "Maybe we can teach her to sing?" Really I had NO IDEA how beneficial the voice lessons would be. Angela has a moderate bilateral (meaning both ears) hearing loss, and without her aids misses approximately 40% of everything that is said. Voice lessons are teaching her to LISTEN to what she hears, to moderate her own voice, to control her pitch and volume. It's also another form of speech therapy as we work on annunciation and not leaving out words. She's learning about high notes, and low notes, and her teacher Debbie and I are both learning how Angela processes some things that I never knew! When I first started looking for a voice teacher, I got pretty frustrated at the responses I received. Lots of comments like, "I don't work with kids like that." or just plain no response at all. But Debbie's response was different. She took it as a challenge, and welcomed Angela as a student. She's been very creative in finding music that is with Angela's very limited vocal range, and clearly has a heart for ALL her studends. And, voice lessons are CHEAP..only $15 per week for an incredible form of auditory training and speech therapy. LOL
Next week we'll be adding therapeutic horseback riding. My hope is that this will have an effect on her balance, strength and coordination. It should affect her self confidence as well, but Angela is a pretty confident kid! I don't know if she actually NEEDS help in this area. LOL There is a whole other world of vocabulary, sights, sounds and smells associated with horseback riding, not to mention working on responsibility. She'll be assigned a horse, and will be responsible for making sure the horse is brushed and cared for before she leaves each day. Right now we're looking at twice a week, but who knows if that will change. There are several adaptive horseback riding programs around, and they charge an arm and a leg! This place is only $45 for an hour lesson, or you can buy packages at a discounted rate. (we're very fortunate to be able to put this on Angela's waiver!) And..it's close!
Angela bowls for her special olympics team. During the practice season she bowls twice a week...once with the family and once with the team. During the off season we go a couple times a month as a family. She finally got her own ball this year, which she is thrilled with!
During the spring and summer she does Special Olympics track and field. This is pretty funny to watch because Angela isn't much of a runner, but she sure loves participating in this! For those who really don't run there are walking events too. But, the most important part is that they're having fun and making life-long friends.
So yeah, Angela is a pretty busy kid. She has different friends at each of these activities and loves to go to all of them. (well, except for swimming. She loves the actual swimming, it's the getting there part that she hates. LOL) And really, it's thrilling to see her try hard at everything she does. And, seeing the smile on her face when she accomplishes something on her own...priceless!