Written by Jeff Meyer on 26 Sep 2015
Students at the United Cerebral Palsy center received a now annual surprise from the Colbert County, Florida Sherrif’s Department this past week. In the third annual special patrol run, the police canine Bono, who normally spends his days working closely with slightly more serious drug task force, had a chance to interact with a number of students at the special school for cerebral palsy patients. Likewise, students were thrilled to talk to a number of emergency services professionals in Tuscumbia on this third annual visit to the school, which included both the Tuscumbia Fire Department and Police Department. Aside from Bono, another exciting star of the day was the equipment brought by both departments, including of course a fire engine and squad car with sirens, which also thrilled and fascinated a number of students.
Coordinated in part by the executive director of the United Cerebral Palsy Center, Alison Isbell, the day sought to promote favorable interactions between emergency officials, while also giving youngsters a chance to speak directly with professionals in an occupational field that many of the students admire greatly. For many students, the day was a yearly chance to experience in person a profession that many students actively follow on television and elsewhere, but otherwise, would have limited opportunity to observe in action. For parents and families of cerebral palsy students, the outreach opportunities facilitated by the center only augment a growing body of development and social skills programs that already augment ongoing special education programming at the charter school.
To say the excitement was great would be an understatement, however, as school officials note, the visits are about connecting disparate parts of the Tuscumbia community, while also seeking to foster a sense of community leadership and responsibility in the students at the cerebral palsy school. For police and fire department members, the lessons and shared experiences cut both ways, with one official stating that officers and firefighters get as much, if not more out of the children’s joy and eagerness to learn more at the annual visit than the children, which is important in a profession often subjected to some of the most dangerous and hostile situations facing a community.
The United Cerebral Palsy Center of East Central Alabama, an affiliate of a national network of such programs, operates several levels of inclusive charter school programs for cerebral palsy patients. These patients, who can age up to twenty-years old, enjoy cost-free educational services in an environment that caters to the multitude of developmental, educational, and social complications arising from cerebral palsy and its co-existing conditions. The individual educational programs, which are essential for the highly student-specific needs of cerebral palsy patients, facilitates free public education to an otherwise likely underserved population of students.