Saturday, June 18, 2011

Press release: Jordan Klausner Foundation kicks off camp for kids with cerebral palsy; offers baby camp

Gainesville, FL, June 17, 2011 --( The Jordan Klausner Foundation, a nonprofit organization for children with disabilities, starts another summer of education and therapy services Monday and launches a new class for infants and their parents.

The camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every weekday from June 20 to July 29 and is located at 4315 N.W. 23rd Avenue. An additional six hours of instruction to parents and babies may be scheduled individually.

During the year, the foundation operates the Gainesville Conductive Education Academy, a Florida charter school that combines rehabilitation and education to help children become more functional and independent.

“The parents don’t care what the therapy is called,” said Katalin Szvoboda, the academy’s teacher and therapist. “If it’s working, that’s the main goal.”

The facility applies the therapy method developed in Hungary in the 1940s by Andras Peto. Over the decades, Peto's Institute in Budapest has become a popular destination for Cerebral Palsy parents from all around the world, with many witnessing great progress in their children's walking, talking and other functionality skills.

Szvoboda, who is known as the academy’s "conductor," was born, raised and trained in Hungary, and has been involved with the school since the first summer camp was held in 2005. The Academy’s approach combines K-12 education with therapy, with full-time instruction offered during fall and spring semesters. During the summer, the schooling is substituted with fun activities, games, arts, crafts and more exercises.

Summer is the busiest time of the year for the Academy, with some children arriving from out of state. Parents of children with disabilities often do not have the resources or time to provide adequate therapy during the school year and the summer camp provides an opportunity to introduce families to the benefits of Conductive Education so they may consider fall enrollment.

The key to Conductive Education is having the children follow the carefully designed scripts of exercises to make them to stand, move and walk with the use of specially designed furniture that also serve as rehabilitation tools. The goal is to make the children as independent and as functional as they can be, as foundation’s motto states: “Helping special children help themselves.”

Although the technique may used in children with any neuromuscular disability, Conductive Education is believed to be particularly effective in Cerebral Palsy cases and Gainesville has one of only two centers in Florida able to offer Conductive Education free to qualifying resident parents through the McKay scholarships. There are still open spots for interested families.

While many students do not enter the academy until they are of elementary school age and may qualify for the McKay scholarship, Szvoboda says the best age for beginning the Conductive Education therapy is right after birth.

“If the doctor sees something wrong or there was an oxygen lock, then see the therapist as soon as possible,” Szvoboda said.

With the six additional hours per week of individual instruction for parents and cerebral palsied infants, Szvoboda will be able to start working with the child early as well as educate parents about how to help their child’s development.

“The parents want the big change, they want the miracle, but they have to start as early as they can,” Szvoboda said.

Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term for a number of neuro-motor disorders involving brain injury at birth or during pregnancy. An estimated two-to-three live births per thousand are diagnosed with the condition, with some studies suggesting raised rates in recent years. It affects children in all countries and all social groups. The condition mostly affects walking, control over limbs, balance and speech and in most cases, renders the body spastic.

The Jordan Klausner Foundation was founded in 1999 by University of Florida professor James Klausner in memory of his son who had cerebral palsy. The foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit run primarily by volunteers to offer a range of services to the disabled community in North Central Florida, including educational opportunities for children, advocacy and legal services. It was founded by parents and relies on grants, donations and McKay scholarships for funding. The Gainesville Conductive Education Academy school opened in 2006.

For more information or to tour the facility, please email or follow us on Twitter:jklausnerfound

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