New pediatric therapy gym helps child overcome developmental challenges

Health Check

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – When Nicole Sanchez realized her then two-year-old daughter, Anneliese Sanchez, was experiencing developmental problems, she knew something needed to be done.

Anneliese was struggling to do things like walk upstairs, speak with others and recognize shapes and colors.

“It’s kind of hard being told as a parent that it’s going to take some time for your daughter to be more open and be able to bring sentences together,” Nicole said.

She decided to bring Anneliese to Ascension Via Christi’s Therapy Center in Manhattan, where she started receiving physical, occupational and speech therapies.

“When she initially started coming, she didn’t want to leave mom. She’d cry and fuss and would really have a hard time leaving mom,” said Peggy Wiens, Anneliese’s speech-language pathologist. “Now, she’s just always saying, ‘Bye, mom.'”

That confidence has grown in all of her abilities in the past year that Anneliese has been attending the therapy sessions, allowing her to do the things she once was not able to and more.

However, it was difficult because of surrounding distractions.

“Our space was a big, open gym that did have some pediatric equipment, but we also saw a lot of adults that had an orthopedic surgery or stroke, something like that,” said Kaytee Beaver, Anneliese’s occupational therapist.

From there, the therapy center staff knew they needed a specific space for their pediatric patients. Then, with the help of Ascension Via Christi and the Mercy Community Health Foundation, the new pediatric therapy gym was created.

“It gives them the flexibility to do their own thing and to challenge themselves with different things like the swings and the climbing gym and the rock wall and different things like that,” Wiens said.

Now, kids like Anneliese get excited to go to their therapy sessions and achieve amazing things.

“It’s been a challenge, but in the end it’s really helpful. Since coming here she’s been great with everything, that she’s really improved,” Nicole said.

The therapy center sees children of all different ages and diagnoses. A doctor’s referral is needed to receive services.

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