Pre-schoolers, CMU students relish time spent with gymnastics team


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Chuck Miller/Staff Photographer Plymouth junior Emily LaFontaine of CMU's women's gymnastics team works with children from CMU's Child Development and Learning Lab on an uneven bar drill Monday afternoon in the Rose Center.

Children hopped, balanced, tumbled, bounded and leapt around the Events Center along with members of the gymnastics team as part of a Gymnastics Day field trip Monday.

Student teachers from the Child Development and Learning Lab organized and put on the gymnastics event for children ages 3 to 5 years old they teach in Pod B. CDLL teaches students valuable skills and provides them with first-hand experience in child education and care.

The trip started as the eager children donned their coats, hats and gloves and filed out of the classroom with the student teachers. It was the second week students had taken over the main responsibilities for running the class.

“With this field trip, they’ve been very hyper beforehand,” said student teacher and St. Louis senior Laura Nash. “Things have been pretty smooth as long as you get the kids' attention, and throwing a field trip is always interesting on top of everything. They’re preschoolers, so they’re never predictable.”

Once the giggling group arrived at the Events Center, blankets were laid out on the floor for a picnic-style lunch to fuel the kids up for the day's activities.  Following a lunch of sandwiches, apples and milk, singing and a quick cleanup ensued before the group headed down to the gymnasium where members of the gymnastics team were waiting.

The gymnasts introduced themselves to their young audience, and after stretching and warming up, the kids were separated into groups to visit different activity stations.

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Chuck Miller/Staff Photographer Illinois freshman Becca Druien of CMU's women's gymnastics team works with the children from CMU's Child Development and Learning Lab during a somersault drill Monday afternoon in the Rose center.

The children inched across the balance beams with help from the gymnasts at one station. They held hands at the start, but after some convincing, the team members had the kids shimmying to the end all by themselves.

At the tumbling station, children stretched their arms into the air before falling forward and tumbling head over heels down a padded ramp.

Across the gym, the kids bounded and bounced at two more stations, leaping from horizontal bars into a soft foam pit at one station and hopping up and down on a trampoline at another.

Gymnast Samantha Piotrowski, an Illinois senior, said she was enthusiastic about interacting with the kids.

“It’s pretty exciting. I like the way they are captivated by trying new things," Piotrowski said. "For me it seems like the simplest thing, like walking across the beam. But for them, it’s like this huge, impossible feat. When they make it across, they would jump off the end with a huge smile on their face and then they would land. It was the nicest feeling."

Colorado freshman Taylor Noonan is also a member of the CMU gymnastics team and shared similar feelings.

“I just love their enthusiasm — how much fun they can have no matter what they are doing," she said. "They always have a good attitude and they always want to do more, so I love doing that."

The gymnastics team has been involved in the community and has donated their time to similar events in the past.

“Obviously to make these kids’ day, it’s worth it,” Piotrowski said.

Once the children visited each station and time was nearly up, they were brought together again to watch a short routine by the gymnasts, have posters autographed and ask questions.

Student teacher Haily Fabish, a senior from Clinton Township, said she was pleased with how the activities of the day went.

“It was a lot of work. A lot of unexpected things came up in the planning beforehand, but I think in the end everything came together pretty good," Fabish said. "The most important thing is that the kids had fun and I saw a lot of smiles"


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