Ready Body, Learning Minds Project

Williamsburg Landing resident Bud Walker has been a skilled woodworker since his teenage years. He has crafted a variety of items such as toy boxes for his grandchildren, art easels, lamps, and even a dollhouse that is an exact replica of his granddaughter’s current home. His most recent project in Williamsburg Landing’s woodshop was in partnership with the Williamsburg James City County (JCC) School system and WJCC Physical Therapist, Susan Larkin.

Larkin and her colleagues, a team of physical and occupational therapists, are piloting a program with preschoolers and kindergarten age children called “Ready Body Learning Minds”. This program supports motor and sensory development and academic growth in all students. Two activities designed for this program includes using: a “stomp and catch” and a “spinner.” Students will use these devices throughout the academic year to help them focus better on their work and increase their readiness for learning. The pilot class of students was introduced to a variety of activities including using these devices. These students showed improvements in their writing skills compared to those students not using them. Walker was able to create four of the “stomp and catch” devices where students put weight on one end and catch a bean bag that is simultaneously thrown from the other end of the board. He also crafted five “spinners” for students to practice spinning while sitting. There were only a few devices available to use in the school system before Walker completed this project, and they were shared among multiple schools across the county. Walker’s works will now allow each school to keep them permanently, increasing student exposure to these academically stimulating exercises.

A Wellness Integration Specialist at each school and all Bright Beginnings preschool teachers will work alongside physical and occupational therapists to implement this program with students. The goal in the future is to have a motor lab in each school for students to perform a variety of activities to help them develop the skills necessary for learning readiness.