Julian Clark and World Fit – A success Story!
Julian Clark is a 13 year old seventh grader at Beaumont Middle School in Lexington, Kentucky. Julian is one of 1,050 Beaumont students that together completed 220,882 miles in the 2011 World Fit Walk. World Fit touches the lives of every participating kid to one degree or another. However, Julian Clark is a special story. Julian is on the autism spectrum and has cerebral palsy.
Julian did not walk until the age of three. To walk unaided was a milestone he accomplished through his own determination, coupled with physical therapy, persistent exercising, plus boundless encouragement and patience from family and friends.
As Julian grew older – and bigger – growth spurts began to create challenges. His muscle strength did not keep up with his sudden weight gain. The ability to walk he had worked so hard to develop began to slip away. He needed an increased emphasis on vertical muscle building in order to maintain his independent mobility. World Fit and Shriner’s Children’s Hospital came to the rescue.
Julian’s Principal at Beaumont Middle School, Kate McAnelly, is a passionate World Fit supporter. Her student body embraced World Fit from the start and in 2010 Beaumont was the National World Fit Champion!! Back in 2010, however, when Beaumont set the National World Fit distance record, Julian did not participate. Because his walking had become so limited, he sat in a chair by the track and could only watch as the kids walked.
This changed in 2011 when the Lexington Shriner’s Hospital for Children, where he did PT once a week, learned about World Fit. The staff designed a special tricycle to accommodate Julian’s range of motion, his balance and his muscle strength. It was a bike he could ride on the World Fit walking path around the Beaumont Middle School.
Julian’s Shriner’s bike connected him to the World Fit students. This world puts kids outdoors having fun together as they walk. The key word is “together.” On his bike, Julian can fully participate with his classmates; ride on the path with them, log his laps as they do and be part of a championship team. He was no longer watching – he was moving.
The bike itself drew attention from his classmates the first week he rode it. How fun for Julian when the kids stopped to see him and the new bike up close. How fun when they told him he had a “cool” bike. And, how fun for him to be outdoors and moving and enjoying World Fit along side the other kids!!.
Indeed, World Fit is a special world…a world where all kids are outdoors, all kids are moving together and all of them are having fun. Julian is now participating with all the kids. Maybe the key word is “ALL.”