|The ARC Steps Up For Indiana Special Education Students
Portland, Indiana, is the kind of small Midwestern town where everybody knows everybody else and where people pitch in to help when a need is known. It’s a place where students get a day off school for the annual Tractor and Gas Engine Show, and where the Antique Bike Show and Jay County Fair are major events on the town’s calendar.
That spirit was at work when the local chapter of the ARC purchased AlertSeats™ for Susan Williams and Holly Tonak’s special education classes at the General Shanks Elementary School.
With 400 students, General Shanks is the largest elementary school in the Jay County school district and a magnet school for special education. Susan Williams and Holly Tonak teach in two of the four special classrooms to students with mild to moderate cognitive impairment, autism, Down syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome.
Every student in their classrooms got an AlertSeat™, thanks to the ARC, and Williams and Tonak report that student benefit from using the seats, citing the chairs’ effect on trunk strength and stability.
Of course the ARC, which paid for the chairs, is not just a small town affair. It is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. It has more than 700 state and local chapters and 140,000 members nationwide.
The ARC likes to say that it is “on the front lines to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have the support they need to be members of the community.”
AlertSeats came to the school district’s attention when a physical therapist saw them at a professional conference. The Jay County School Corporation budget couldn’t stretch for what seemed an unconventional choice of furniture, so Janice Durham and Helen Tow, officers of the Jayland ARC, came forward with an offer of help. They had seen articles about ball seats and believed in their usefulness.
“ARC is amazing,” said Susan Williams. She said that the local chapter is there for the teachers and students always and for that, she, Tonak, and the other special education teachers in the school district are grateful.