"Avalon is very special because it actually embodies the principle of doing what is best for each child. The staff is very caring and treats our child with respect and understanding. They treat the children, regardless of their disability, as humans.”
Kris | Parent
Like other children and young adults, students who are motor-disabled do best when they are happy, healthy and part of a flourishing community.
While motor-skill development is central to improved education, health and quality of life, socialization and recreation are also considered essential components for our students to thrive. In particular, meal-times are social occasions during which staff and students eat together as a community. Many of the students have had challenges with eating and drinking, and Avalon staff are extremely adept at oral-motor and positioning techniques which ensures that meal-times are relaxed and fun. This in turn leads to healthy nutrition and promotes well-being.
All students participate regularly in outdoor group rides on adapted tricycles (www.freedomconcepts.com). Unlike most individuals with severe motor challenges, Avalon students therefore experience exercise with the associated cardiovascular and respiratory benefits. Additionally, these tricycle rides promote development of head and trunk control, strengthening of anti-gravity muscles, improved hand-eye coordination and bone growth. Most importantly, the students have fun which leads to improved self-esteem and greater social acceptance. Students regularly visit local cafés on these tricycle excursions and have been embraced by the local community.
Art, Music and Dance
Artistic expression is particularly important for students unable to communicate verbally. Music is frequently included in activities, from meal-times to movement education, and art projects are routinely integrated into the curriculum. Dance workshops provide an outlet for the students to participate physically and learn about a variety of dance genres.
The wider Avalon community regularly gets together to celebrate special occasions (birthdays, holidays, etc) in collaboration with local restaurants, and there are periodic ice-skating and swimming parties. Families and caregivers are always welcome at these events. Two or three times a year, Avalon hosts ‘pizza and movie’ evenings for students and their siblings to allow parents and caregivers some much-needed recreational time of their own.
The environment at Avalon has been purposely designed to be calming and spacious. Children with disorders such as cerebral palsy are extremely sensitive to their surroundings as over-stimulation can cause uncomfortable involuntary movements or aggravate behavioral challenges, both of which can lead to distress. Visual clutter is minimal, which allows students with visual impairment to focus and use their vision efficiently. The ambience created is upbeat yet soothing which promotes good morale, emotional well-being and learning.