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Dia 10 - Conociendo a las familias

Today was the culmination of all of our projects and we had the opportunity to present our projects to the parents, teachers, and administration of Camino Nuevo.

Bridget, Katie, and Becca's group started out by educating the parents on the sensorimotor system. Nearly all of the preschool parents showed up, and all were extremely interested in how to best help their children. We took the entire group outside and showed the parents and teachers the recess activities we had planned to increase sensorimotor play. These activities consisted of a parachute turn-taking game, playing in sensory bins, and moving through an obstacle course in the motor room. We ended the session by teaching the parents about calming techniques for their children such as the brushing protocol, joint compressions, and breathing. We encouraged the parents to practice these techniques with their children at home to promote behavioral self-regulation. The parents had many questions about the demonstration and how to make it work for their child. Before wrapping up we read a story together about animals doing yoga, and the parents did the accompanying positions with their children. Overall, the parents and teachers were very grateful and we felt overwhelmed with gratitude for the experience.

Heidi, Savannah, Olivia, and Kiera presented to the parents, teachers, and PT, sharing their main goals of safe body mechanics for transferring students, promoting independence for the students who can ambulate independently, and increasing the social interactions for the students during play and class time. We demonstrated one and two-person transfers and had the parents and teachers practice. We praised what they did well and gave constructive feedback on how to improve their body mechanics so that their body integrity is maintained and the students remain safe. We moved into the classroom for lunchtime and it was really powerful to see the parents connect with each other and see the obvious love they have for their children. Some highlights of the day were being able to show the parents what their children are capable of doing, like getting into and out of chairs independently, eating solid food, and drawing independently. Yesterday we worked with a para-educator and student from another class to teach them how to do a stand-pivot transfer, and it was awesome to see the para-educator teach the student's mother how to do it today! As a final activity we spent time with one of the teachers to show her some relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and stretching exercises. As a group we felt honored to share this day with the students, staff, and parents and we feel good about today and hope that our impact on the school is a lasting one.

The recreation team; Jennifer, Hork, Stacey, and Diana; practiced implementing movement breaks during class time and implemented a longer structured movement activity with both classes and their families this afternoon. The movement breaks during class time will be added in every 25 minutes. These 5 minute exercise breaks give the students a chance to move positions, stretch their bodies, and increase oxygen to their brains which will help them better focus and ultimately learn more. Our goal with both the 5 minute movement breaks and the longer exercise programs are to integrate movement and learning. Hork described the connection between exercise and improved learning to the families and teachers. Stacey designed and led the 5-minute movement breaks. Diana led the longer exercise break. Today, both classes exercised together working on endurance and full body strengthening. Joint compression is helpful for children with autism so they can better understand where they are in space. Our movement programs emphasize this and we are leaving behind this program with the teachers so they can continue this work after we leave.

The afternoon ended with a presentation to the administration of all of our ideas and recommendations for further positive change in the school. The purpose was to make sure that our recommendations were carried through by the teachers and to ensure that the changes are sustainable. They were extremely receptive to our thoughts and are excited to carry out the ideas. By maintaining GROW’s relationship with Manos Unidas and Camino Nuevos, we hope to strengthen these projects by passing on our experiences to the next group of student volunteers.

Tomorrow is our last day at Camino Nuevos. We will have one more day to practice and refine our projects before saying goodbye to this wonderful group of teachers and students.

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