NINETY SIX, SC – Walk into Sharon Smith’s classroom at Ninety Six High School and you see most of the usual classroom stuff: cluttered teacher’s desk, student desks and chairs, the ever-more-common promethean board. One thing you will not see is a chair at her desk. Soon enough, chairs will not be seen at some her students’ desks either.
About a year ago, a fellow teacher at Ninety Six High School suggested Smith sit on a stability ball rather than the usual chair at her desk. Her friend said it would strengthen her core muscles and improve her posture.
While Smith says her core muscles and posture have not seen drastic improvement as a result of sitting on the stability ball, she says she did discover another benefit.
“I googled ‘stability balls and benefits to learning,’” Smith said. “I found a lot of other teachers who said that the stability balls helped their students focus better in the classroom.”
At the suggestion of another teacher friend in Spartanburg, Smith went to DonorsChoose.org, a website that lets people who want to donate to education decide exactly where their money will go. Teachers list projects on the website and donors choose which projects their donations go toward.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Smith needed $65 to purchase five stability balls for her classrooms.
The balls were used initially for physical therapy and almost exclusively in Switzerland. An American, Joanne Posner-Mayer, was in physical therapy for seven years in Switzerland. She founded Ball Dynamics International, Inc. (BDI) in 1991 due to an increasing demand for the balls in the United States. BDI is currently the nation’s leading distributor of stability balls.
In 1988, a Swiss therapist, Vlatka Zeller, was concerned with the rising number of teens who suffered back pain and replaced chairs with stability balls. Her research discovered that children sitting on balls became calmer and could focus for longer periods, could generally concentrate better, handwriting skills improved for children with poor penmanship, often showed a better understanding of the subject material and disorganized children developed a better sense of organization.
Classrooms across America have been slowly taking hold of the idea and seeing the same results. Smith hopes to do the same in her classroom.
If you would like to donate to Smith’s project with the stability balls you can visit the project page at the link below.
Ms. Smith’s Stability Ball Project Page