6 local kids graduate from THRIVE

Reno, NEV (KOLO) It wasn't your typical graduation. Nevertheless the recipients were no less appreciative or excited to be receiving their certificates.

For the last five weeks, they've been coming to camp for six hours at a time. With their parents, they moved their bodies in ways that eventually allow them to lift their heads on their own, or sit up in a chair.

“This time for him, he stood independently for the first time standing at one of the tables, playing without anyone helping his hips or legs or anything like that, which was huge. And then my other son's walking, his hips, his gait, is so much smoother, his posture is so much better,” Christine Kiefer tells us of her two sons Luke and Jacob, both diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

The local United Cerebral Palsy Chapter shifted in to high gear to make THRIVE happen. Families raised money, grants were sought, and a crowd-funding effort got underway.

More than $30,000 later, Judit Soptei from Hungary arrived to teach the class, which incorporates concepts of physical, occupational, and speech therapy with the use of specially designed wood furniture.

“There are handrails everywhere so they can learn to grab on, hold things. And of course, if you gain support with your hands it is going to help you to straighten your posture to sit up better, to stand up better,” says Soptei.

The class is just as much for the parents as for the kids. That's because once everyone goes home the parents are responsible for continuing with the program of exercises.

Those exercises hope to help the children gain more control over their bodies, leading to self- confidence and development of problem-solving techniques by integrating their personalities and lifestyles.

The ultimate goal is maximum independence, where children can enter school and the community, and eventually find jobs.