I believe in hard work and doing what you can for yourself. That is why I agreed to give Conductive Education (CE) a try at age 17. I had done a CE camp when I was really little and didn’t like it, but if it would help me be independent more at college, I thought I would try it.
I came up to Grand Rapids to be at the Conductive Learning Center (CLC) because that was the only CE program in the United States that would take an older person. My first day, I was overwhelmed. I thought that they were asking too much of me. I expected to learn how to stretch better, and to gain some range of motion in my arms and legs. All my life I had been sitting on a plush cushion in a very supportive wheelchair, with seat belts and head rests and every kind of strap you can think of. The conductor/teachers were asking me to sit on a hard chair, with little supports, and hold myself up. They wanted me to try to feed myself, dress myself, help get myself from my chair to the floor and back, and many other tasks I never expected to be able to do. I thought they were impossible tasks, and it was a waste of time. But since I had said I would try it, I stuck it out. I will admit that I complained to my mom a lot the first couple of weeks.
Then something amazing happened the third week. During lunch, I began to realize that I could stab food with a fork, and get it to my mouth! I was feeding myself!! At the same time, my mom noticed that I was able to sit up straighter on the sofa, without any headrest or supports. By the end of the session, I was convinced that I could continue to add skills to be more independent.
Since then, I have participated in a total of seven sessions, over 8 years. Each session, I come away with new skills. I have learned to feed myself most things, button and unbutton a shirt, assist in transferring from my chair to my bed or another chair, hold my head straight, and move myself around more independently. Most importantly, CE has changed my way of thinking about what I can and cannot do physically. I used to think that what I had was all there would be for me, but now I know that I can still learn new skills that can help me be independent more and more. Conductive education and the CLC have proven to me that my hard work will pay off in the end.
- Zach Bryant
To provide opportunities for individuals with motor challenges to achieve optimal physical, cognitive and social independence through the application and promotion of conductive education principles.