At the Cottage Preschool in the Cherry Creek School District, teachers help youngsters develop important cognitive skills, like learning letters and numbers, so they are prepared for kindergarten. But children also need to develop physical and social skills, which is part of the reason the Cottage Preschool uses the Young Athletes Program (YAP).
YAP is part of the Special Olympics Unified Sports program and is designed for two- to five-year-olds, including those with special needs, to help them develop body control, gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination and interpersonal skills.
“YAP really helps support the motor goals I’m working on with my students,” said Jennifer Mietty, an occupational therapist at the Cottage Preschool. “Things like body-space awareness, balance and arm and hand strength which are necessary to hold a pencil and to write.”
On Oct. 2, the Cottage Preschool was named “Young Athletes Program of the Year” by Special Olympics Colorado, during its annual Hall of Fame event. The Cottage staff was recognized for “a genuine commitment to providing the highest quality activities, ensuring that their young athletes of all abilities are fully engaged in developing gross motor and social skills, and that all students are inspired to reach their full potential.”
The Cottage Preschool serves 130 students, including up to 50 students with special needs. The Cottage is one of several preschools in the Cherry Creek School District that uses YAP to help youngsters develop skills such as balancing, standing on one foot, throwing and catching and teamwork. Those skills enable children to be more successful in kindergarten and beyond. For more information about CCSD’s Preschool programs, visit http://www.cherrycreekschools.org/EarlyChildhood/Pages/default.aspx.