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A SPLASH OF GYMNASTICS FUN ACTIVITIES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN IN THE VALLEY.

Byline: JOHAN MENGESHA Valley News Writer

Regular activities, such as playing on the playground or staying focused at school, can be tough for children with special needs. Through specialized recreational activities, however, this can be improved.

Big Fun is an organization that promotes the integration of children with disabilities into all aspects of life through recreational activities. Big Fun has 15 gymnastics locations and four pool facilities in California, along with two gymnastics locations in Arizona.

In Chatsworth, Big Fun works with children who have autism, mental retardation, seizure disorders and other special needs, teaching them gymnastics. The program, held at Team le Club on 9636 Cozycroft Ave., has been around for six years and proved helpful for children with problems related to strength, motor planning, balance, sensory processing and organizational behavior, said Michael Galvan, aquatics director for Big Fun.

Big Fun has also offered swimming classes at the Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind at 7915 Lindley Ave. in Reseda for the past four years. In the pool, the children can experience a different world, Galvan said. With little gravity, they can move around more freely and become more aware of where they are, he said.

About 20 staff members work at the two locations in the Valley. Most of the time, the children's parents hear about Big Fun through word-of-mouth or from one of their other children. Big Fun also works with children without special needs.

Before a child starts taking the classes at Big Fun, they must go through an evaluation to see what specific needs they have, Galvan said. They are then teamed up with an coach who will work with them on a one- on-one basis.

Most children at Big Fun are between 4 and 9 years old, but adults also visit, Galvan said.

He calls Big Fun a ground-breaking business and said it is among the largest organizations offering aquatic and gymnastics services for special needs children.

One thing that makes Big Fun special is that ``every individual who is here wants to be here,'' Galvan said.

For more information about Big Fun, call 877-244-3868 or visit its Web site at www.bigfungymnastics.com

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Photo:

Aquatics director Michael Galvan works in the water with one of the many children who come to exercise at the Big Fun pool in Reseda. Big Fun works with children with disabilities through recreational activities.
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Title Annotation:Valley News
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 30, 2006
Words:399
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