There are gaps in the current health-care system for children and youth with disabilities, and Maureen Connolly’s long history of advocacy in this area has helped to bridge them.
Connolly, a Faculty of Applied Health Sciences‘ professor in the Department of Kinesiology who is also cross-appointed in the Department of Child and Youth Studies, is offering her ‘Programming for Disability and at-risk Youth’ course (PEKN 4P02) in Brock’s expanding Spring/Summer curriculum.
The course is designed to help students learn to design individual movement plans for children with disabilities.
Connolly has taught the course during Fall/Winter terms since 2008. This is the first time the course is being offered during Spring/Summer as part of the e-learning initiative.
The course is taught as “flipped” classroom, meaning students learn online and out of the classroom before applying their knowledge in-class, six to eight times between May 5-Aug. 29.
The course will focus on at-risk children and youth and then have students consider the particular issues and supports that these individuals might need in order to participate in an appropriate movement activity.
For example, Connolly noted that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a classic example of a disability that manifests differently for practically everyone who receives a diagnosis. As such, individualized movement programming is essential.
The course also requires a practicum. Many students may choose to fulfill these hours in Connolly’s unpaid ASD summer movement camp.
This program, hosted on site at Brock University for the past 18 years, provides a developmentally appropriate movement education-based curriculum focused on the needs of youth and teens with autism.
“Offering this course in the Spring/Summer session provides a great opportunity to get students ready for the kids who are coming to camp,” Connolly said. “It’s not exactly glamorous work, but it’s absolutely necessary work.”
While autism awareness is higher than ever, Connolly believes there aren’t enough programs to help teens and young adults with this pervasive developmental disorder. That’s where the Spring/Summer course - and Connolly’s camp - can help.
“It’s a vital service,” Connolly said. “The more we can prepare our students for this population in terms of competence and knowledge, the better.”
Registration is now open for Spring/Summer courses at Brock, and demand continues to grow as the University expands its offerings for both students and community members who wish to begin, continue or extend their education.
Last year, Brock noted a 17 per cent increase in Spring/Summer enrollments from the year previous. Another 15 per cent increase is expected in 2014.
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