Joanne Poulos - Mother of two children in ESMT

March 13, 2012

I am a parent of 2 children in the Empowering Steps Movement Therapy (ESMT) program. My daughters, Alisha and Krystal Mundy, have been attending sessions here for 3 years, since 2009. Krystal has a brain injury and is hemiplegic on the right side. I have noticed significant changes in her ability to have control over her body. She is better able to climb, run, and play. Three years ago she was not able to walk and moved around on her bum using a scooting motion. Her coordination and strength are much better and she is now able to use her right hand. At times now she will unconsciously reach for an object and use her right hand, without being constantly coached to do so. It is now a natural action for her to use that right hand. Before joining the ESMT program, she was unwilling and unable to use her right arm at all. I believe that the personalized one to one ESMT sessions have been extremely beneficial for my children in many different ways.

Alisha, who has FAS and extremely low muscle tone, is now attending a typical gymnastics class for 1 whole hour every week and loving it! She is just like one of the typical kids now and her self esteem is still rising. She could not even get close to a beam and she can now walk across it, on her own.
At school, my Krystal's teacher has noticed that she is now walking up and down the halls independently. She is interacting with the other children in her class and can engage in physical activities with them at recess and during gym time. The teacher told me that when he goes over to help her, she pushes him away and tells him she does not need his help anymore. She is happy and feels more confident and is encouraged by her own successes.
At home, I used to have to do everything for Krystal, such as dressing her, putting her shoes and braces on her legs and helping her move around the house. Now she is able to get up off her bed independently and she is helping to dress herself. She is so proud of her new independence.
In general, my children have improved in many aspects of their lives. They love to show off their successes and are delighted when everyone is so proud of them. This is only encouraging them to try harder at everything they do. Their self-images have also drastically changed, especially Krystal. She has gone from a child who was introverted and lived with "I can't," to a child who is always smiling, has internal pride in her accomplishments and is full of "I can." Her spirit is soaring.
The atmosphere at Club Aviva is not like a typical "therapy" setting, an office. The kids want to be here because to them, this is not "therapy." To them, a typical "therapy" appointment is not celebrated and I get a lot of resistance from the girls to go to a clinic, or office setting. The girls are always eager to go to the gym for Movement Therapy, because to them, Movement Therapy is not "therapy," Movement Therapy is fun, like a playground! At Club Aviva, they're enjoying themselves, they're in the gym doing gymnastics, and they're members of a community which consists of children with abilities and disabilities. Any therapy where a child thinks that it is a playground, rather than a therapy session has a much better result with a much more positive attitude where they want to go, rather than the family starting to fight because the children don't want to go. When a child wants to go to their "therapy" session, it is so much less stressful and more harmonious with the entire family and home-life. The positive atmosphere creates positive feelings in my children, making it fun and good to get better.
Psychological medicine is powerful and evident when my children are accepted at a facility where "inclusion," "teamwork," and "athlete" are everyday terms used and practiced for EVERYONE! Club Aviva is an encouraging place to be since everyone is working together towards a common goal: "The Empowerment of Individuals, Families, and Children Through Activities That Promote Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional Wellbeing."
The staff and research team of Dr. Rob Wishart, Will Van and Vivien Symington, are exceptionally caring and inspirational. Their interactions with Krystal and Alisha have been so favorable that I have taken this as my only treatment option for them. They are taking both the ESMT program at the Club Aviva gym and the ESMT Aqua Therapy program at the pool. I have seen so many positive results at Club Aviva and with the ESMT program and with the wonderful therapists, this is the only place that I want my children to be.
Joanne Poulos
On behalf of my children, Alisha and Krystal Mundy
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