Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Conductively marching on

Those who know me remember that I’m a big supporter of Conductive Education- an approach to Cerebral Palsy devised in Hungary decades ago that took the world by storm in the 1980’s. For the last few years I’ve been involved with The Jordan Klausner Foundation, a small and local nonprofit started by a university professor in memory of his son that adopted this method for the school it was running in Gainesville. I’ve been passionate and vocal about making facilities like that one available in America and reaching more children in need. I was lucky enough to have benefited from the source if you will- I spent a few years in the world famous Peto Institute and that time was well invested as it made me more functional and independent, giving me a better balance and control over my body. The method is however not widely recognized and accepted in the United States. More often than not it’s the initiative of parents in small communities that put these programs together. And they deal with limited resources, lack of visibility and run on low funds when the economic crisis hurt or limited some of the public funds to depend on. Some of the big centers are in turn either too expensive for some parents or not conveniently located close to where they live.

The Klausner family put a lot of free time and effort into making their Academy a reality. James Klausner already had a job, one that was exhausting enough and paid his bills, when he did what must’ve felt like taking on a second one. He worked tirelessly to keep the Academy afloat for many years. He did to help all the kids and parents in the community that were not properly looked after. This year the Foundation decided to suspend the school activities. To have it run again, it would have to go back to the starting point. Find a new Conductor, a new group of students, figuring out a new financing model in the face of declining scholarship and a new location. I wasn’t there when this decision was made but I understand it.  Many of us have moved on, some out of State and the Conductor moved to London. Foundation will go on in some other form, honoring Jordan’s memory in Florida and his battle with Cerebral Palsy.

But, where’s passion, there’s hope. There’s quite a few Conductive Education programs in Florida, so I figured it must be true everywhere you go. I thought the biggest obstacle parents face is finding a way to pay for it and figuring out how to get there. Recently I got a call from a mother in a neighboring State of Georgia. She told me she would be perfectly willing to pay for a CE center if she could find one. Apparently there were none, free or fully paid for at least in her part of the State. She will come together with parents of other disabled children and form some kind of structure. They are looking into hiring a Hungarian Conductor and starting the H1B visa process. And it gives me hope. It reminds of the drive everyone at the Klausner Foundation had.  For as long as there are kids with disabilities, there will be parents trying to make it better. One school will close and the other will open. Nature abhors a vacuum. For as long as there is passion and dedication these kids will be fine. Putting a center together will not be easy of course, but I know first hand that parents will go through a lot just to help a child. And I will be admiring their accomplishments from a far.

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