Children Reach New Heights With Adaptive Climbing Walls

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Adaptive climbing walls help children of all abilities improve physical fitness and feel successful.

kidsjumpingAn Everlast Climbing Adaptive Climbing Wall was installed at Lincoln Elementary School in Pryor, Okla. to enable students in the special education program to conquer the climbing wall right alongside their typically developing classmates.

“We felt we needed to do it for our students in special education so they could feel that they could do things all the other children do,” says Laura Holloway, physical education teacher and director of health and wellness for the Pryor School District. “When they see themselves going across it, in their minds, they are just as equal as everyone else.”

“Seeing those students do an activity they might not normally get to partake in is really great,” she adds. “The children feel that success and tell their teacher they did it with smiles on their faces. They want to do it again and again.”

The Adaptive Climbing Wall features grab-bar style hand holds and ledge-style foot holds to provide stability and extra support for children with physical disabilities. The wall also features other color-coded Groperz hand holds designed just for children that offer additional variety and levels of challenge. Green climbing holds are the largest and easiest to grab. The yellow holds are a little harder and the red holds are the smallest and most challenging. The climbing wall also has a dry-erase surface that can be written on and accepts magnets to provide learning opportunities for children with cognitive or communicative disabilities.

“Our Adaptive Climbing Wall is perfect for adapted or inclusive physical education, occupational therapy and physical therapy because it provides opportunities to simultaneously develop muscle strength, balance, body awareness, motor planning and more,” said Mertyce Mrvos, Coordinator of Programs & Partnerships for Everlast Climbing. “And it’s also really fun, so children want to do it. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

At Lincoln Elementary School, students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade use the Adaptive Climbing Wall during physical education classes, working on improving balance and decision-making and building upper body strength and self-esteem.

“There’s a lot more to it than climbing,” says Holloway. “It’s as much a brain challenge as it is anything else. You have to process things as you are going across, like which rocks would be better to grab. You can also have your students do math, or make sentences, as they’re climbing across.”

One of the school’s goals is to use the wall, which was purchased through a federal Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant, for an after-school climbing club.

“I think it reaches kids that don’t always find their place,” she says. “Maybe they’re not your sports kid, or your band kid. A child who is not connected to anything else can feel success in doing this.”

The Adaptive Climbing Wall at The Pediatric Place in Libertyville, Ill., adds an element of fun for children receiving physical, occupational and speech therapy, according to Myla Teemer, PT, clinic director.

“It’s something different. It does not look like exercise,” Teemer says.

The Pediatric Place serves children with neurologic and orthopedic conditions, sensory disorders and fine motor deficits, speech and language disorders, and feeding disorders. Many have coordination deficits and muscle weakness.

groupkids“There are a lot of benefits to the wall: Strengthening, increasing range of movement, enhancing motor planning, improving body awareness,” Teemer says.

Teemer added that the size of the wall make it less intimidating for children at the clinic, most of whom are 6 years old and younger. The wall measures 8 feet by 8 feet.

“We have a few kids that are either weak, have low tone, or have postural insecurities that meant in the beginning it was a whole clinic production for them to climb the wall. We had to call the parents and or another therapist for added reassurance,” she notes. “So we asked the kids to just do the first level of rocks and start from there. It seems like when they complete that first level, they gain confidence and are more willing to complete to the top.”

For added incentive, therapists often put toys or other treats on the top climbing holds for children to retrieve.

“They have big smiles on their faces, especially when they reach the top,” Teemer says. “Parents almost always take pictures or video of the kids while climbing or when they reach the top.”

Improve Your Fitness Page’s Reach By Understanding Facebook’s EdgeRank

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By Steve Mehr, CEO of WebShark360

facebookWhen it comes to marketing your fitness company, a Facebook page remains one of the most popular tools to attract new customers and to engage with them. Your fitness company’s Facebook page can become a dynamic platform from which you disseminate content aimed at helping others become well. But as Facebook continues to change, many fitness businesses worry that their posts aren’t getting the reach that they once enjoyed. What happens when you begin to lose visibility?

It can be difficult for fitness companies to stand out from the crowd. Consumers’ news feeds are already full of pictures, videos, and statuses from their friends. What hope does your fitness company have of standing out in that noise? The first step is to understand how your fitness page’s content is disseminated. Facebook uses an algorithm named EdgeRank to determine whether or not your content is valuable to its users and using a variety of factors, it determines who to show your content with. Once your fitness business understands how to use EdgeRank to its benefit, you can increase your visibility and ensure your business is able to help Facebookers achieve the wellness you advocate.

What is EdgeRank?

EdgeRank sounds funny, like something you’d be using to describe an ice skating move. Actually, it’s Facebook’s algorithm which determines where your fitness page fits in. Using EdgeRank, Facebook determines whether to share your content with your audience or not and who among your audience might be the most open to receiving those updates. To better understand EdgeRank, you must be familiar with its key components:

• Affinity – affinity refers to whether or not fans have previously engaged with your fitness page. The more a fan engages with your fitness page and your content, the more it stands to reason that they are likely interested in your fitness company and its products. Facebook determines this interest is good and therefore, shows the user more of your Facebook content. One of the hardest things for a fitness page to encourage is affinity. Pages that enjoy high amounts of affinity among their fans are truly reaching their intended audience on a consistent basis.

• Weight – Facebook is not concerned with the pounds you’re carrying around. But they are concerned with the kinds of items fans have previously engaged with in the past. Using this determining factor, Facebook assumes that if a user frequently shares pictures, clicks like on visual content, and adds a lot of visuals to their page, that they must be a picture person. Using this determination, Facebook will endeavor to share more visual content with that user. So when you make a post on your fitness page, your visuals will be shown to these users more often than say your blogs might be.

• Time decay – time decay is a sort of best by date on your fitness page’s content. It’s no surprise that as much content gets uploaded to the internet on a daily basis, old posts don’t often find a home among fans. New posts are more interesting than old posts and are therefore shown more frequently to your fitness page’s fans than an older post would be.

• Negative feedback – Some people like your fitness page, but then based on your content, or your posting frequency, or any number of factors, they decide they’ve had enough of seeing your content. Facebook keeps track of this negative feedback- how often users click hide, report a page for spam, or unlike a page to determine whether or not the page’s content should be shared as frequently. If your page is experiencing high rates of negative feedback, then your visibility could suffer.

Understanding EdgeRank to Improve Your Facebook Page

malepushupWith these ideas in mind, your fitness business is better able to make decisions regarding your content to increase your reach and visibility instead of decreasing it. If you’d like to see your EdgeRank score in action, you can download an application such as EdgeRank Checker to see insights into your Facebook posts. The EdgeRank Checker dashboard will give your fitness business valuable analytics into your posting success per time of day, per content type, and how this engagement grows or diminishes. With this valuable information, your fitness business is able to make the necessary adjustments, which could include:

• Content adjustments or upgrades
• Changes to your posting schedule
• Changes to your style of fan engagement
• Adjustment of campaigns and offers

EdgeRank can be confusing at first, but once you have this information in your hands, your fitness business can make the adjustments to boost your Facebook page’s visibility and grow your reach.

– Steve Mehr is CEO of WebShark360, a premiere internet marketing and attorney marketing agency. Based out of Irvine, California, this talented team of internet marketers offers their clients website design, content marketing, public relations, social media, advertising, and SEO services. For more information, visit WebShark360 at http://webshark360.com or call (800) 939-4850.