Monday, September 10, 2012

Spirit of Gainesville: James Klausner

Last year I was nominated to the Spirit of Gainesville Award. This time around, I decided to submit James Klausner as a worthy candidate  for all he's doing for children with Cerebral Palsy and their parents as well as all his hard work to spread Conductive Education awareness and availability

James Klausner wasn't looking for an additional career when he decided to start a rehabilitation program for kids with Cerebral Palsy. He already was quite busy with his day job as a lecturer at University of Florida and a physicist. It would be enough to nominate him for his work as a professor. But he wanted to help kids in Gainesville, kids just like his son, who passed away at age six. He wanted to make them
mobile, more independent, educated and accomplished. Hopefully, he would help them walk. In 2006 he started The Gainesville Conductive Education Academy. With a program modeled after the world famous Peto method, James Klausner took on a second day job. He never turned a child away and as the head of The Jordan Klausner Foundation created in his son's memory he tried with all his might to balance his need to help the local community with ever limiting funding to keep the facility running. Conductive Education is a method very little known in America, but quite popular worldwide, especially in the 1980's. It doesn't enjoy the financial support of insurance or the recognition of the US medical community. Conductive Education was developed in Hungary in the 1940's. The theory behind was that people with -neuromuscular disabilities can learn and improve through routines, movement and repetition. James wanted for the parents in Gainesville to have it as an option, to have the information and then make choices.  He created an Academy that was free for most, affordable for the rest and he persuaded a Hungarian conductor, Kata to join his cause.

25 years ago I was just like the kids James Klausner has helped in Gainesville. I know what it did for me. I know what it's like to fight with limitations of your own body only to raise above it and get better. Today I'm an attorney. Cerebral Palsy never goes away of course I can see, but you can limit the way it affects you. what James Klausner tried to do, against the odds, bringing the approach that helped countless kids to Gainesville. To give them the gift of mobility. And also to start the discussion about the education and
therapy choices in America and how we view Cerebral Palsy today. He didn't make CE widespread, but he got his foot through the door.

This is our last chance to honor Dr Klausner's efforts. After years of struggles the school has shut down this year. I know it was not an easy decision for him. It's not that Cerebral Palsy is no longer a concern in Gainesville, but the logistics, the finances, the economic crisis we all live in, finally became too much for this one person, who tried to make a difference. He sacrificed a lot of personal time, energy and money. He thought of others first.

Last year I was nominated for my work with the school. But James is the true champion of Conductive Education. I'm just a success story. He has inspired me to help others like me. At the school little
miracles happened daily. Yet, the media mostly ignored him. This is our chance to correct it. The school has closed but his efforts were not a failure. Not to his students, his other students, those who now
walk, speak and move.  Not to me, as I build by career around disability law issues and all the others he has touched. The school has closed, but the Foundation will continue, James assured me. For
Jordan and for other kids in Gainesville


  1. Dzień dobry :)
    Przeczytałam dziś Pana komentarz w w sprawie wypowiedzi Pana Korwina-Mikke i to zawiodło mnie na Pańską stronę. I bardzo się cieszę. Nawiązując krótko do małych i nieważnych wypowiedzi bardzo małego Pana Mikke - nie wiem po co cytuje się go w jakichkolwiek mediach lub sieci - dla mnie to propagowanie i nagłaśnianie małości. Ale trudno. Staram się nie czytać i oglądac o tym za dużo, bo się wstydzę za to co widzę i słyszę, ale dziś przeczytałam i przez to wpadłam na Pańską stronę. No, to miało to jakiś sens :)
    Jestem pod wrażeniem Państwa pracy, zmartwił mnie wpis o zamknięciu szkoły dla dzieci z porażeniem, jestem ciekawa Pana dalszych wpisów, dziś miałam szansę "przebiec oczami" szybciutko tylko niektóre i tylko pobieżnie, a teraz musze wrócić grzecznie do pracy :)
    Proszę napisać jakie są dalsze losy szkoły i jak wygląda Pana praca w Gainesville. Mnie Floryda podobała sie niezwykle. Mam nadzieję kedyś ją jeszcze wakacyjnie odwiedzić.
    Serdecznie pozdrawiam