The new climbing wall at Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum allows Bay County children with disabilities to work with their therapists in a safe and fun environment.

For children, a trip to the museum is playtime. For their occupational, physical, and speech language pathologists, that playtime means so much more.

With play-based therapy, “the children don’t realize they are working; they feel like it is playtime,” said Scott Staszak, a Bay County occupational therapist who works with some of his children at the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum.

Recently, Bay Area Community Foundation’s Nathalie Awrey Memorial Fund awarded the museum $1,000 for the purchase of a new climbing wall. Because climbing is done laterally instead of vertically, the wall is more approachable for children who may be scared.

In working with the climbing wall, children develop motor sequence planning skills, work on their spatial body awareness, build muscle strength, and gain confidence in coordination.

Scott’s four-year-old son Easton uses the climbing wall with his speech language pathologist. Before grabbing another handle to climb with, Easton practices by saying its color. Of all the exhibits, the climbing wall is one of his favorites.

Scott, too, uses it in his occupational therapy sessions. “The kids build a lot of confidence with the wall by succeeding at an experience they haven’t done before,” he said. “They can work on so many different skills with the climbing wall, and it’s long enough that several children can work on it at the same time.”

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