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Lauren loves her Exercise Physiology and Healthy Kids Gym group program with Cerebral Palsy Alliance

For 10 year old Lauren Saliba, working with her Exercise Physiologist (EP) and in the Healthy Kids Gym group program has had a substantial impact on her health and wellbeing.

Lauren has cerebral palsy that impacts her right arm and both her legs and she has scoliosis. She learnt to walk from around age four and while this bright, beautiful girl excels, sports and the outdoors have always been a struggle for her.

To support her development she sees a range of Cerebral Palsy Alliance therapists funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) including EP and gym programs.

Mum Mona Saliba said that Lauren had been working one-on-one with an Exercise Physiologist at Prairiewood for more than three years and is heading into the second year of the Healthy Kids Gym group program.

“We are seeing the benefits of the specialised home program and group gym program, in Lauren’s mental and physical wellbeing” Mona told us.

“She is now playing outdoor games, something she never did before because she lacked the confidence. We kick the ball in the backyard together, a skill she learned in the Healthy Kids Gym group.” For Lauren, having children run past her at the park or the playground can be a little overwhelming and intimidating.”

“At school and other public places if Lauren feels like she can’t do a physical activity, she gets anxious and holds herself back,” Mona shared. Interestingly, Lauren breaks through that barrier when with her gym group. “Sometimes she mentions she is tired but when EP Louisa asks if she wants to go again, Lauren always says yes,” said Mona.

As a mother watching her daughter blossom it’s more than the skills Lauren gains, it’s the inclusion as the group incorporates her abilities and tailors the activities. Lauren has been able to take part in activities she once thought impossible. “In one session, I watched Lauren participate in musical chairs, a game she missed out on as a child because it took her so long to walk. To see her smiling and laughing while she experiences an iconic childhood game – that means a lot to me,” Mona said.

The Healthy Kids Gym group program is just one of the group sessions Cerebral Palsy Alliance runs. There are sessions for teens and a new falls prevention group, tailored to that group’s needs. For the kids it’s about making exercise and learning fun while playing games with their peers.

“The Exercise Physiologists Louisa and Paige set guidelines for the kids in the group to follow, around encouraging each other and respecting the equipment. They also incorporate other healthy living information into the activities, making it fun to learn about making healthy eating decisions.”

The red light food and green light food, and how to fuel your body games stick on Mona’s mind. Each session starting conversations at home about health and wellbeing.

“It’s preparing her for the future, for independent living and, for making her own choices and good decisions for herself.”

One of the benefits of coming to a familiar environment, is that Lauren can feel safe and free to be herself. “Lauren is so comfortable at Cerebral Palsy Alliance, she told me that going there feels like being at home. And my two year old loves being there too, walking around like she owns the place. I trust the EPs, their advice and their programs, and I see the proof that it’s working for Lauren every day,” said Mona. Initially she engaged a Cerebral Palsy Alliance EP to help Lauren to build her core strength when she started needing to wear a brace for her scoliosis.

“The EPs and the group gym program have been instrumental in Lauren’s development and reducing the impact of her scoliosis. Over time we have seen her symptom, the curve of her spine, go from a 33 degree angle to around 15 degrees. We believe this is thanks to her exercise program and support from therapists at Cerebral Palsy Alliance.”

When asked what she would say to other parents or people looking at starting a group gym program with Cerebral Palsy Alliance she said: “I would definitely recommend the program, it’s important for the physical side but it also teaches them about health. It’s the total package and this is important for a child’s lifestyle.”

The Healthy Kids Gym group program is available at Allambie Heights, Prairiewood, Ryde and Kingswood sites, but could be coming to a site gym near you soon. Cerebral Palsy Alliance has exercise physiologists at gyms across Allambie Heights, Prairiewood, Scullin, Kingswood and Ryde sites.

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact your local site

Register your interest for the Healthy Kids group gym program  

You can follow Lauren’s journey on their Instagram page ifightcp_laurensjourney