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Conductive Education At Sara’s Garden

Since the summer of 2006, Sara’s Garden has welcomed special educators from Hungary, called conductors, to lead its Conductive Education program.

Anna Baranyi, who came to the U.S. in November 2007, is the third and current conductor at the facility.

Conductive Education

Sara’s Garden is a non-profit center, originally opened in 2005 to administer hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which has proven beneficial to people with a variety of problems, including brain injuries.

Sara’s Garden expanded its offerings to include Conductive Education (CE), a system of education for people with physical disabilities that stem from brain injury. It was pioneered in 1945 by Andras Peto, a Hungarian doctor, in Budapest.

Conductive education is based on the idea that despite any damage to the central nervous system, the body has the ability to form new neural connections. This comes through the process of active learning, with the guided help of a conductor. These conductors attend a four-year university program at the Peto Institute in Budapest, the only one of its kind in the world.

CE helps individuals with brain injuries such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other muscle-control problems.

This approach targets children under the age of six, because those are the ages when CE can have its greatest impact. Through CE, a child can gain higher levels of independence.

Sara’s Garden

As a conductor, Baranyi works hard with her ten clients, ages 1-14 years. By using a walking ladder, steps, plinth tables, mirrors, balls, and other items, she helps children retrain their brains.

“I teach the kids to use their body for everyday movements: open the door, put the shirt on, grab the cup and feed themselves on their own,” she said.

Being a conductor is a physically challenging job. It’s hard on the body because conductors are on the floor, maneuvering children while supporting their body weight.

Baranyi said, “Sometimes I’m extremely tired and I think, ‘You know what, I can’t do this.’ I have a couple days’ rest and I say ‘OK, I can’t stop.'”

Because it’s so demanding, she jokes that, “when I become an old lady I would like to teach.”

Baranyi thinks the Sara’s Garden facility is “a blessing. It’s a wonderful place. I wish I had this place in my hometown.”

So what brought her here? “God was speaking to me: ‘Go and encourage the people there, the kids, the parents, and the people around me.’ That was His purpose.”

She plans to go to Hungary in June for a vacation, but already realizes that she is a different person since being here.

“I will go home, but not as the same person as when I came. There are many changes in me and I’m so glad God uses me.”

Client Progress

The earlier a child receives CE the better chance he has for good improvement. Its approach is not just about motor function development. It is also about the physical, intellectual and social requirements needed for developing a healthy personality.

The goal is to improve the general attitude of the child from “I can’t do this” to seeing himself with no limitations and a better self-esteem.

Measuring progress is different for each client. Some children come three or four times a week. Others come once a week. Some of this depends on how far away the families live. The more often they can come, the better chance of improvement.

When the children use Sara’s Garden’s hyperbaric chamber, they make more progress because, “it just pushes them forward.

“Also, we are praying for every kid every hour. We believe that God’s hands are on us and He can bless us,” she said.

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