Final Blog

My interest started with dance and how I can bring my passion for dance into my summer experience. Then when I resorted to kinesthetic learning approaches while teaching, I wanted to explore the ways movement benefits not just physical health, but overall cognitive, social/emotional well-being as well. Previously, I knew from studying mental disorders like depression, that exercise is often a suggested method to elevate an individual’s mood and reduce depressive symptoms. Also, I read about how long-term exercise can reduce an individual’s chances of developing dementia or delay cognitive decline.

With my interest in movement, I created several movement-based learning activities for my students in Morocco and noted several observations. For example, setting up hop-scotch with singing the ABCs I took note of how some kids were more advance in their balance and coordination and also the growth between the first and second time executing this activity. Then in Italy I got to explore circumstances where an individual had limited mobility either due to genetic disorders, acute illnesses like strokes, or accidents. In these situations, I saw the physical health impacts that could result due to limited or no mobility and no rehabilitative intervention.

 In Morocco I saw how movement-based activities brought joy to the kids while also keeping them engaged in learning. Due to this experience, I developed a greater understanding in how important movement is in education and cognitive development, not just physical health. In Italy, I interviewed a physiotherapist and the lead doctor in the neuromuscular disorders. I learned that without rehabilitation and physiotherapy sessions, many individuals with neuromuscular disorders will develop very flaccid, weak muscles and eventually severe scoliosis whereas in combination with a new drug and physiotherapy sessions multiple times a week, many patients have been able to walk and execute tasks like sitting up or catching a ball. This experience made me appreciate my ability to exercise and carry out my passion for dance while also recognizing how important movement and rehabilitation is even when disorders, illnesses, or injuries temporarily limit our physical capabilities. Interestingly, I also noticed that in many of the kids I saw with neuromuscular disorders that limited their mobility, they also displayed slight cognitive impairment or delay and I would like to explore the connection, if any, between these two ideas further.

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