Playful Pathways

WORDS and IMAGES courtesy Dr. Allison Young, Arkansas Colleges of Health Education School of Physical Therapy

Feb 1, 2024 | Featured, Health, News & Events, People

Playful Pathways, a free research program hosted at Arkansas Colleges of Health Education Research Institute Health and Wellness Center, goes beyond traditional mommy and me classes by combining elements of gross motor development, occupational therapy, nutrition, and socialization. This holistic approach creates an inclusive and nurturing environment where infants and all caregivers can thrive together, laying the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy development.

Founded by Dr. Allison Young of Arkansas Colleges of Health Education School of Physical Therapy and Mandy Chilton, owner of Learn, Play, Grow Pediatric Therapy in Fort Smith, Playful Pathways, is an innovative program tailored for infants aged 0-6 months and their caregivers. Dr. Young, a Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist, created the 8-week program to focus on key aspects of early childhood development as well as socialization among caregivers. The program provides a unique way for infants and caregivers to embark on a journey of discovery and growth.

Infancy is a critical period for gross motor development and the program has been designed to facilitate the natural progression of these milestones. Through carefully curated activities and exercises, infants are encouraged to explore and engage with their surroundings, fostering coordination, balance, and strength. Caregivers are given valuable insight from pediatric physical therapists about how to play and engage their babies at such an early age. Occupational therapy is also included as it’s vitally important to address sensory and motor challenges that may arise during this formative period.

Proper nourishment has a profound impact on an infant’s growth and well-being. As such, a registered dietician is available to provide caregivers nutritional guidance tailored to the specific needs of infants, promoting a holistic approach to their overall health.

Another goal is to create a supportive community for both infants and caregivers. Caregivers and infants learning together in a nurturing environment fosters bonding and secure attachment. The interactive setting also allows caregivers to connect, share experiences and build a network of support!

 Playful Pathways runs twice a year, classes begin February 20, 2024. Spots are limited! Email Dr. Young at for additional information and sign up! 

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