Students volunteer with the Early Childhood Special Education program

Regina Pauly, Writer

Jumping and splashing around in the swimming pool during second block, high school students help out with Early Childhood Special Education Program (ECSE). Students with autism often have problems connecting with others and swimming in the pool with students, teachers and their parents can help reduce this issue and help them become more comfortable as part of their physical education credits.

“We come swimming once a month as part of their adapted PE program with Bryan Simmerman” Early Childhood Special Education Teacher at World Of Wonder Kari Pihlstrom said. “It is good for their gross motor development, their fine motor development, cognitive development and social, emotional development. Some of them can be very reluctant to get in the water and so are their parents because their afraid that it’s dangerous so we offer them to come and watch or even participate.They see this is good for the kids, they’re not afraid and the kids like it so it’s good for both the kids and the parents.”

Swimming with the ECSE students not only benefits those swimming but also the people involved in the program. Custodian Dave Van Valin was a former student at Fenton High and helped with this program. These students helped him with patience and taught him many other life lessons that he would use beyond high school.

“I learned that regardless of the circumstances that you can look at the bright spots and gleam goals and life skills and hard work pays off, through watching the students work really hard.” said Van Valin. “It taught me to work hard and ask questions when I needed help, my favorite part was when it gets difficult a lot of students still have a smile and work hard. I am excited that it’s continuing and it’s very rewarding.”

Simmerman talks about how it can be easy to give up and just say it’s too hard but the dedication that these kids have is like no other and it inspires him and many others around them to work harder and push through storms that people face each day.

“How they [ESCE students] keep persevering and working at challenges and coming up with new ways to do things that we take for granted really teaches me to push through challenges.” said Simmerman. “They’re learning new ways of doing things and they just have this never-quit attitude and they’re just a real hardworking group of kids. It’s fun to do and it’s great to see the kids learn and progress and get better and one of the things I have is the opportunity to grow up with these kids from pre-k through high school.”

Students interested in getting involved and helping with the students should talk to Physical Education teacher Rebecca Moore about coming in during SRT.