Spalding University, enTECH and Kosair Charities helped make this early part of the holiday season bright on Tuesday for the families of six children who face special challenges.
Surrounded by holiday decorations and gathered by the tree at the Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (enTECH) Assistive Technology Resource Center, those families received gifts of assistive technology that will help the children learn, play and communicate. The devices were distributed to families who applied through the enTECH and Kosair Charities Financial Assistance Program, which is supported by a grant from Kosair Charities.
Kosair Charities President Keith Inman was on hand to deliver the devices to a thankful group of kids and their parents.
“Any kind of help we can get is a true blessing,” said Heather Vanover, whose 9-year-old son, Hunter, who has Poland syndrome and autism, received a Buddy Bike tandem bicycle that he can ride with a parent.
Hunter has been coming to enTECH and Kosair Charities Integrated Technology Experience (KITE) camps for most of his life and has worked with enTECH therapist Alison Amshoff since he was an infant.
“Good job, bud!” Amshoff told Hunter as he climbed on the bike. “Look at you go!”
The bicycle will help Hunter work on his balance and develop his core strength while, above all, enabling him to interact with his family and experience the joy of bike rides with them, Heather Vanover said.
“Every parent wants their child to gain access to as much as they can or to learn as much as they can,” Amshoff said. “Through the support from Kosair Charities, we’re able to have materials and to have technology to offer these families so that their children can have the maximum potential.”
Brantly Grienenberger, 5, received a Tobii Dynavox Indi speech tablet device that will help him communicate with his family. Brantly has been nonverbal his whole life and has a neurological disability, his father, John, said, though doctors have so far not been able to give an exact diagnosis. That has led to limitations in the family’s insurance as far as obtaining assistive technology.
Using the gift from enTECH and Kosair Charities, Brantly is able to make gestures or point to images or buttons on the device to help express that he’s hungry, thirsty, wants to play or has another desire.
The device “has advanced our son’s quality of life by giving him a voice,” John Grienenberger wrote in his application for the program.
“It’s awesome,” John Grienenberger added on Tuesday. “We’re so happy about it. It’ll help us out a lot.”
Other families received Apple iPads that can be installed with an array of apps that are designed for children who face special challenges.
The enTECH Kosair Charities Financial Assistance Program is part of an outreach program from the enTECH Lending Library. The Lending Library provides families or individuals the opportunity to rent or be loaned pieces of assistive technology and give them a try, helping inform their decision before they make what is usually a significant purchase.
Spalding and enTECH encourage members of the public who need assistive technology to give the Lending Library a look.
“It allows families to see if a certain type of technology will benefit their child and how it can improve skills in their life and benefit the family,” Amshoff said.
enTECH, located at 812 S. Second St., is a division of Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT) and is one of five state-designated assistive technology resource centers in Kentucky. Last spring, enTECH expanded with the unveiling of the Kosair Charities Virtual Immersive Playground, a clean, open space that’s loaded with assistive technology and sensory devices that are therapeutic, entertaining and educational for children with special needs.
Spalding’s graduate-level occupational therapy students use enTECH and the three-times-a-year KITE camps as a training ground for interacting with pediatric clients.
The Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy graduate program now offers an entry-level doctorate in occupational therapy (OTD). It is accessible to any student with a bachelor’s degree in any field.