Nearly 35 years ago, a veteran teacher with a background in sports came up with a novel concept for the Arlington Heights Park District: Get small children moving and it will enhance their reading skills.
Park district officials say it was a new idea when Kathy Ball suggested offering a mini-gym course to toddlers through first graders, believing that an active body would produce an active mind.
"The idea was that the increased motion and use of their motor skills would lead to better reading," says her husband, Ron Ball.
Arlington Heights Park District officials say a version of her original mini-gym class, taught to parents with their small children, still remains one of their most popular classes.
"She was instrumental in growing it," says Sue Gwinnup, recreation superintendent for the Arlington Heights Park District.
Mrs. Ball passed away on Wednesday. The 31-year Arlington Heights resident, was 63.
Family members say Mrs. Ball came across her idea while teaching first grade at North Elementary School in Crystal Lake.
"That's where it all started," Ron Ball said. "She realized that if kids bounced on the trampoline, and then recited their ABCs, or did some sort of reading, they were much sharper."
Mrs. Ball took the idea to her home park district in Arlington Heights. They offered her the chance to start the course at her neighborhood community center, Camelot Park.
She designed a course that involved tumbling, running and playing with brightly color hoops, before bouncing on the trampoline at the end of class.
"She was very interested in motor skills and motor development," her husband adds.
The class ended when park district officials feared the trampoline presented too great a liability, but the concept of getting small children moving while spending quality time with a parent in class, still remains.
Over the years, Mrs. Ball remained active teaching children. For the last 12 years, she was a substitute teacher in Prospect Heights Elementary District 23, at Betsy Ross, Eisenhower, and Anne Sullivan schools, and at MacArthur Middle School.
She and her husband also officiated at high school swim meets for more than 25 years, as patched officials with the Illinois High School Association.
Besides her husband, Mrs. Ball is survived by her children Christopher (Dawn) Ball, and Kelly Ball.
Services have been held.