Meet Catalina

“Mama I can jump!” Catalina squealed. It was a big day. Three-and-a-half-year-old Catalina thought she had been jumping before but, as her mother Beatriz reports, while Catalina’s upper body bobbed and swayed, her feet had never left the ground.

Born with Down syndrome, Catalina was receiving physical therapy and occupational therapy through First Steps for overall gross motor delay when a friend of the family told Beatriz about Children's TherAplay. As someone who feels nervous around animals herself, Beatriz would never have guessed that within a short time of beginning treatment at Children's TherAplay Catalina would be talking about Children's TherAplay and Zippy, the pony she rides most often during treatment sessions, nonstop. “It’s been amazing. She’s developed this love for these animals. She wants to go ride a horse.”

And jump, all over the clinic and all over her home. Beatriz beams when she remembers Catalina’s first true jump, “I’ve never seen her so excited. She was excitement and pride. ‘Mama, that was the best jump I have ever had.’ That was a big thing for her. Now she jumps from point A to point B and on all different surfaces.”

Beatriz has also seen other gains. When Catalina came to Children's TherAplay she was uncertain in her walking and running, especially on different surfaces. Through her physical therapy not only has her walking stabilized, she’s graduated to running for short distances on tile surfaces. And while Catalina has just begun occupational therapy at Children's TherAplay, Beatriz reports that her handwriting has improved and she’s even been willing to try different foods, which had been a challenge at home and school. Beatriz reports, “Last week she ate cereal and I was like, ‘Wow.’”

Best of all is the joy Catalina finds at Children's TherAplay. “She doesn’t even know she’s going for therapy. For her it’s a play time. Every time I see her in therapy, she’s just cracking up.” In fact, along with school, therapy at Children's TherAplay is Catalina’s favorite activity, so much so that her parents bought her a calendar so she could see for herself which days were Children's TherAplay days. “She talks about it all the time. She just likes to go and be with [physical therapist] Jen. The other day she was saying ‘Miss Jen is my best friend.’ … She just likes to be at Children's TherAplay. This has added a lot to us and our family.”

What would Beatriz say to other parents who are wondering if Children's TherAplay can help their children? “Go for it! I mean it’s the best thing that we could probably do for Catalina right now. We feel extremely grateful that we have the way to take her twice a week [for both physical and occupational therapy] because it’s a great thing for her. …I love it. You should see the happiness. She talks about [Children's TherAplay] with pride and it makes her really happy, so it makes me happy. We’re big fans of Children's TherAplay.”

[Children's TherAplay is] the best thing that we could probably do for Catalina right now. …
She doesn’t even know she’s going for therapy. For her it’s a play time.
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