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Schools MOVE in the right direction
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The Dawson County School system has started a program for students with limited physical abilities that is likely to change the motivation, attitudes, and ways of thinking for some students. Maggie Muschara, physical therapist for Dawson County schools said she is excited about the program and the benefits it provides for children. It is really going to be interesting to see the change in these kids, Muschara said. Not only does it increase self confidence, but it also strengthens their respiratory system, prevents muscle contractions, and allows the children to be in several different positions, strengthening muscles that might not otherwise be used."

Thirteen teachers and faculty members completed a two-day certification program to become Basic Providers of MOVE, (Mobility Opportunities Via Education/Experience). The program is activity-based and combines natural body mechanics with an instructional process designed to help students acquire increasing amounts of motor skills needed for daily activity, including sitting, standing, walking and transitioning.

There are currently four children participating in the program at Riverview Elementary School. They have access to equipment specially-designed to allow children to sit, stand, walk, and transition at all times of naturally occurring opportunities throughout the day, limiting the use of a wheelchair. The goal is to have these kids move to P.E., the lunchroom, the playground, and other activities without the need of someone pushing them in a chair, while increasing their self confidence, Muschara added. And the results are moving. One of the students participating in the program, Gracie Contreras, 7, was standing in the hall in a gait trainer, while a team of supporters cheered her on. A kindergartner walked up to Gracie and said, Gracie, look. You are standing just like me! Muschara said. It was like the child did not even notice that Gracie was in a gait trainer. Dr. Susan Rutherford, director of Dawson County special education, said the program proves many people wrong. I just sat in amazement for the past two days, she said. These children are getting out of their wheelchairs. Sometimes, we forget to look at possibilities. Just because they have never walked before doesnt mean they do not have the physical ability to do it. Muschara agreed. Just being around these kids gives you a whole different perspective and being around the whole team is truly amazing, she said. MOVEs philosophy is, It takes a team to MOVE, and Dr. Rutherford said she is proud to be part of the team. It is amazing to see what we can do in the school system to enhance the lives of our children, said Rutherford. It just brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face. The MOVE program will be presented at the Oct. 8 school board meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m.