Twenty years back, Sarah Quezada remembered her brother attending therapy at Cal Poly Pomona’s Motor Development Clinic (MDC) as a child. Today, her 7-year-old son is enrolled in sessions at the clinic. 

The Motor Development Clinic is a service provided by the kinesiology department on campus that adapts learning programs to the needs of children from ages 5 to 15 who present delays in motor skills or coordination of certain body parts, according to Director of the Motor Development Clinic, Elizabeth Foster. 

Quezada is going on one year since she began taking her son to the MDC and she compared the attention her son receives at the MDC with her local clinic as the difference between “night and day,” as she said the previous program her son attended in her city was chaotic. 

Ethan, 12, practices coordination by learning to ride a bike during his session at the MDC with director Elizabeth Foster and teacher Sergio Martinez. (Ruth Olivares / The Poly Post)

She said her favorite part of the MDC is the one-on-one attention her son receives with the instructor and she is pleasantly surprised that on some occasions, her son also has four to five teachers focusing on him all at once. 

Program hours and availability are determined by student enrollment in a course called KIN 4050-A, a service learning course, as students and staff members teach during sessions, though many are kinesiology students required to teach at the MDC for the course.

Although most of the teachers at the clinic are students, Quezada said she feels her son is given the attention he needs. 

“The P.E. (physical education) teacher treats my son like he’s a person, not like he’s a kid,” Quezada said. “He treats him authentically.” 

Before creating a learning plan fit for her son’s needs, Quezada said her son’s teacher at the MDC, Mr. Victor, asked her what her son responded well to, which helped in her son’s success.

“The teacher was able to work music into the motor development plan so it could be rewarding,” Quezada said. “They work with what kids are responsive to and they make it rewarding.”

Sergio Martinez, a fourth-year kinesiology student and teacher at the clinic, said changing up development plans for students can be tricky. 

“Going into this it’s exciting and scary not knowing how they’re going to react,” Martinez said. 

Martinez said he is grateful for the opportunity to teach children at the MDC, as it has helped him gain confidence in teaching and helped guide his career choice. 

“It is helping strengthen my choice in what I want to do,” Martinez said. 

Specifically, Martinez said he hopes to work with students who are deaf or hard of hearing because he grew up with deaf parents. 

He said he is grateful for the opportunity to work at the clinic and feels the MDC is very representative of CPP’s motto.

“For P.E. teaching, working with many types of kids helps build that foundation and it follows CPP’s motto of ‘learn by doing’ and that’s what we do,” Martinez said. “It helps shape us into better educators.” 

The clinic is not a recent addition to the university and nearby community, as the MDC is approaching its 40th year of service in the upcoming fall semester.

It began in 1979, when professors of the kinesiology department started looking into places where students could practice teaching children with disabilities, which resulted in the opening of the MDC. 

Foster described the opening of the clinic as serving a “dual purpose,” since the clinic was a need for the community and provided children with the services necessary to improve their motor skills, all while providing CPP students the opportunity to interact with children with disabilities. 

During the fall and spring semester, children attend a one-hour session twice per week for 10 weeks, which is offered at $200, Foster said. 

In the summer, a shorter program of approximately five weeks is offered with longer session hours, according to CPP’s website. 

Fees are waived whenever possible. 

Foster said the MDC receives funds from three different endowments in order to keep the clinic operating. The endowments also grow into scholarship opportunities available to students or to families that cannot afford the service. 

Last summer, the clinic received a $1,000 donation and fees were waived for every child participating in the summer program. 

Foster said she hopes the Motor Development Clinic can expand its services from infants to children up to 5 years old because it can be beneficial.

“The earlier the intervention, the more successful the children are,” Foster said. 

The MDC provides valuable experience which can benefit students who hope to go into teaching and it accepts volunteers year-round.

The MDC can be reached via Facebook at Cal Poly Pomona Adapted Physical Education, or on Instagram and Twitter @cppadaptedpe. 

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