Impossible is no longer acceptable

18th May 2007 at 01:00
We think nothing of standing up and walking to the kitchen to get ourselves a drink. But for some young people with cerebral palsy, this simple task seems impossible.

Pupils with physical impairments can spend much of their school day away from usual lessons. With many therapies to incorporate into their day, disabled young people and their teachers can often find education competing for time.

The introduction of MOVE at Craig-y-Parc school in Cardiff has helped education and therapy to integrate.

MOVE is an activity-based programme aiming for maximum independence, dignity and inclusive lifestyles for disabled people and their families.

Skills of sitting, standing and walking are basic requirements for access to all areas of learning.

The main aim of the programme is to develop these skills, which in turn enhance functional adult living. MOVE works with teaching staff, therapists and families to provide practical and meaningful goals for a pupil. The programme then ensures consistency throughout the day, with skills being practised during normal class activities and at home, and not just with the therapist during a weekly session.

Tamara has been following the MOVE programme for two years. When she began she could only sit in a fully supportive moulded wheelchair. This limited her involvement in class activities and reduced her levels of attention.

Tamara is now able to sit on a normal class chair and enjoys active involvement in all her lessons. MOVE gives the pupils and their families control by encouraging them to choose goals that are meaningful and relevant to their aspirations. Craig-y-Parc has been given Centre of Excellence status as we have developed a model of high quality of practice - the first in Wales.

Seven pupils currently follow the programme, with another three keen to join. Danny Carter is a physiotherapy technician who has completed the MOVE trainer's course, and developed his role to become co-ordinator. All the programmes are designed and monitored with the two on-site physiotherapists. Regular meetings take place with parents.

Danny has trained parents, teachers, learning support assistants and residential staff. Progress is monitored regularly to match gradually changing needs.

MOVE has given our young people greater independence and their sense of achievement is shared by us all.

Neil Harvey is head of Cardiff's Craig-y-Parc school, run by disability charity Scope Cymru

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