Holistic program benefits area people

A group of local mothers said a holistic program — which their children recently attended — is greatly benefiting their children.

Darla Gossard, along with her husband, Stephen, founded the Northwest Ohio Conductive Education Program, in 1999, which is a holistic approach designed for children and adults with a neuromotor disorder.

Their son, Cory, now 25, has cerebral palsy.

Cory, along with others with neurological disorders, recently finished a four-week long Conductive Education program, with conductors from Hungary, at the Lima Missionary Baptist Church.

Conductive Education is a holistic approach to develop spontaneous and innovative problem solving skills in people with physical disabilities to assist their maximum integration into society. It is a unique system of teaching and learning for children with motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida.

The program is designed to improve motor skills and increase independence of many aspects of common living.

Northwest Ohio Conductive Education Program, a local non-profit program in Auglaize County, operates through the help of local and state fund raisers. This year they brought in two conductors, Agnes and Laura, from Hungary, and they serviced eight clients, including Gossard’s son, Cory, of Waynesfield, Andrea Martin, of St. Marys, and Amanda Grieshop, of Lima.

“I heard about this program on a documentary,” Darla Gossard said.

This documentary was on conductive education, which helps people with neurological disorders learn everyday tasks in a holistic manner.

So she took her son to Canada for a conduction education program when he was 9, and she saw improvements as they worked on physical, occupational and speech therapy.

“It greatly benefited our son and several other children and adults with disabilities in the area,” Darla Gossard said of the holistic approach.

Now, Cory attends the annual four-week program, which receives funding from the United Way of Auglaize County. Darla Gossard and her husband started the program in the area, so they can have a local spot for the conductive education, instead of traveling to Michigan or Canada for classes every year.

“The two conductors worked with them on physical, occupational and speech therapy,” Darla Gossard said.

The goal of this program is for improvements in the students.

Darla Gossard sees improvement in her son each day.

“By the end of the first week, when we stood up to do a transfer, he was much stronger,” Darla Gossard said.

During the program, the conductors also worked with the students with stretching on a mat and working on muscle toning.

“The older students have high muscle toning and they require more massaging,” Darla Gossard said, of how the conductors determine the length of each age group’s class time.

Andrea’s mother, Dru Martin, said the conductors do some singing along during their days, which her daughter enjoys.

“They make learning fun,” Dru Martin said of the conductors. “The music and singing make it fun for them.”

During the four-week program with two conductors from Hungary, which ended on Friday, there were students from 3-years-old to 45-years-old that participated, and each were split up into age appropriate groups, and worked with the conductors for three to four hours a day.

“With Andrea, I see an increase in her strength and independence each year,” Dru Martin said of her daughter. “She gains more and more strength.”

She said that she saw Andrea improve every day during the conductive education program.

Not only does the program work on everyday skills, but it develops friendships.

“It develops a lot of camaraderie between the kids,” Dru Martin said. “They develop special friendships and we do see a lot of improvements.”

Client Amanda Grieshop said that the program helps with all daily activities.

“We work on different little steps to get us to all things in our daily lives,” Grieshop said, while working with conductor Agnes during the Conductive Education class last week.

The program works on stretches, which include everyday movements they can practice at home including the motion to put on and take off clothes, tie shoes and bathe.

“They do hand lifting stretches — such as hand motions to take clothes off. We do exercising in class and they learn how to lift their hand and leg up, eating and speech,” said Agnes, a conductor who traveled from Hungary to Lima to teach the four-week program.

She said she and the other conductor teaches the clients on controlling different movements.

“Amanda said she has been doing the program off and on for the last few years,” Grieshop said. “I’ve seen a lot of good changes.”