This charismatic 3rd grader loves gymnastics!  She has found her groove at the YMCA as a gymnast. Although Christina was born with hydrocephalus, a condition where fluids build up in the skull and cause the brain to swell, she is flourishing in her gymnastics class with her energy, zest for life, and great sense of humor.

Christina and her mom, Jessica, have been members of the YMCA since early 2017 when they moved to Springfield from the east coast.  Jessica is a single mom who is on a tight budget so joining the YMCA was a decision she did not take lightly.  Fortunately, she and Christina qualified for a YMCA scholarship membership and are now making the most of their membership.  Jessica was looking for things Christina could do that would keep her busy, and at the same time, help her improve her balance and coordination.  Christina started with swim lessons through our SNAP program. Soon after SNAP ended, she signed up for the gymnastics program. Jessica says “This was the best thing we did. Christina is constantly talking about gymnastics class and can’t wait to get to the YMCA.”

Because balance is something Jessica wanted to see improvement on, Christina spends a lot of her gymnastics time on her favorite thing – the balance beam.  Jessica and Christina’s coach, Megan Hart, have both noticed her coordination and balance have greatly improved.  Megan said when Christina started coming to the class, she was very shy and cautious. Now when she comes to class, she bounces in, is more confident and assertive wants to get right to work.

Megan stresses to each of her gymnasts “progress over perfection” and Christina certainly has shown some serious progress. Megan is impressed with how much she has learned in such a short time.  Christina can do front and back rolls, has conquered the balance beam, is strong on the high bars and, just last week, she learned how to use the spring board.  She has knowledge in all four of the gymnastic events which is going to come in handy as Megan just received her certification to coach special needs athletes and has plans to take Christina to Special Olympics for gymnastics. This will be the first time the YMCA of Springfield YMCA has sent any child to Special Olympics for gymnastics.

In addition to learning the basic skills in gymnastics, Christina loves the social interaction she is getting from the class.  The competitive gymnastic team practice immediately following Christina’s class.  It has become a tradition each week to have a “dance party” with the team gymnasts. Megan says, “It’s been a really great thing for both the team girls and Christina. They really have a good time with each other.”

Christina is only one small example of how the Strong Kids fund helps others by offering programs and services that enrich lives and teach people how to grow spiritually, mentally and physically.