Posted by: sonewjersey | May 5, 2010

Guest Blog: Kean University hosted it’s first ever Young Athlete’s Program (YAP) !

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This blog was written by two Occupational Therapy students at Kean University, Penina Kroll & Tracy Miller.  Read on and find out more about their successful day hosting a Young Athelete’s Program! Great job ladies (and all of the O.T students that helped out to make the day great!) 


Tracy Miller

April [was] Occupational Therapy (OT) month! In honor of this anniversary, Kean University hosted it’s first ever Young Athletic Program (YAP) on Sunday, April 18th, 2010. Teachers and students from various majors came out to volunteer for this very successful day!

I am a first year occupational therapy graduate student at Kean University.  My first time ever participating in Special Olympics was truly inspirational and something I will never forget.

I was one of the leaders for the first activity, Foundational Skills. In this activity, we tossed scarves to the children and had them catch it with any part of their body.  We then showed them how to bunny hop, but changed it by saying they were frogs and/or popcorn kernels and had them “ribbit” and yell “pop”.  The last part of our activity was singing songs such as the itsy bitsy spider, wheels on the bus, etc.  I thought this was the best part of the activity because all of the children were able to participate by listening, regardless of their deficit.

 It meant everything when I saw the enormous smiles on the children’s faces when they realized that they accomplished the activity.  This event was so special because the children were able to relate to others on another level in which maybe they cannot do in school.  As the program was nearing an end, the children received a medal in honor of their hard work.  However, the children did so well that a mere medal would not do; they needed to end the program with a bang! Volunteers made two lines towards the door and clapped and cheered as each family exited the building. The children left the building elated, accomplished and feeling like a rock star! My whole experience was uplifting and powerful beyond doubt. I cannot wait for another Special Olympics where I can have more fun!


Penina Kroll

When I moved from Michigan to New Jersey this past September to pursue my Masters degree in Occupational Therapy at Kean University, I brought with me my passion for community involvement. As the Community Service Chair of our Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) I was excited to have the opportunity to actively involve our OT program in community work.

I reached out to Special Olympics New Jersey looking for an opportunity to give back to the community as well as affording our students a rich learning experience. The Young Athlete Program was suggested as the perfect event for us to host. I was excited to be a part of such a wonderful program that truly fills a need for athletes too young to participate in Special Olympics. The Occupational Therapy department collaborated with the Physical Education, Therapeutic Recreation and Special Education departments, and each discipline brought its unique strengths to the planning committee. I learned a tremendous amount from being a part of the committee and executing the event on Sunday April 18, 2010.

The Young Athlete Program at Kean University was a great success!  As I looked around the busy gym that Sunday morning, I felt a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Each athlete was actively participating in the various stations, smiles shining as they learned and played. I really enjoyed interacting with the athletes and their families in such a pressure-free, fun atmosphere. We were fortunate to have Kathy Edenzon, Young Athlete Program Manager, join us for the event. Running this program with an interdisciplinary perspective was a great learning experience for all students involved. With so many students and faculty members joining forces to make a difference, I am certain that this event was one that brought deep pride to Kean University.

I look forward to continued involvement with Special Olympics, whether as a group with my fellow Occupational Therapy students, or on my own.

For more information on our Young Athlete’s Program, be sure to cisit .



  1. It looks like the Young Athlete program at Kean was a great success! I am teary eyed after reading the experiences and especially, from the picture of how you ended the program with the families! Feeling how I feel now after reading (and unfortunately, not being able to be there), I can only imagine how those families felt…what a great thing you all did!!

  2. I am so proud of our Kean students. It was a wonderful day and I went home filled with joy. I don’t know who was smiling more; the young athletes or our Kean students? I look forward to continuing my support of your efforts in every way possible. You all ROCK!

  3. […] Guest Blog: Kean University hosted it’s first ever Young Athlete’s Program (YAP) ! « &… […]

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