Since October 2021, the Esther Vergeer Foundation (EVF) has had a special sports clinic in the Princess Máxima Center. The sports clinic guides children with physical disabilities to a new sports club. Lineke Kleinlugtenbelt, pediatric physiotherapist and researcher, talks about experiences with the sports clinic and its benefits for children at the Máxima Center.
Lineke Kleinlugtenbelt: 'After a pilot in 2021 for children with a brain tumor, the sports clinic was officially opened in October 2021. All children from the Máxima Center can receive tailored sports advice since then. And this is necessary, because sometimes children can no longer pick up their familiar sports after their cancer treatment. Pediatric physical therapists often receive requests for help in the area of sports and games. With parents' permission, we then enlist the help of the Esther Vergeer Foundation.’
The ERF looks for a solution and helps children in the search for a new suitable sport. 'That is their strength,' Lineke explains. ‘At the intake we look extensively at the needs of the child. What sport does he or she like? What works and what doesn't anymore? It doesn't stop with the intake, they also guide the child in the process afterwards. For example during the first trial lesson at a new sports club. They take the child by the hand and continue until the child says: 'This is where I belong'. The EVF has connections with sports clubs throughout the country. So they can help all children with a new sport close to where they live.
Lotte (16) has found a new favorite sport thanks to the EVF: rowing. She says: ‘Due to a rare brain tumor (Craniofaryngeoma) I have become partially sighted. In addition, my muscles are painful and very tense, making it harder for me to move. With help from the sports clinic, I started looking for a new sport. I tried wheelchair tennis and swimming, but finally chose rowing. I like the fact that rowing uses several muscles and that it is outdoors. In addition, I can specify myself at what pace and for how long I want to row.
Lineke: 'At the sports and exercise center, we value participation in sports and games. Exercise is important, even when you're sick. If a child becomes happy from sports, it also has a positive impact on the whole family. Thanks to the sports clinic we can guide many more children to sports and that is really fantastic.’