August 12, 2016

The Gift of Independence – A First Step of Many

Meet Cetarra Lewis, a young lady with a beautiful smile and cheerful spirit. She was born with a rare genetic disorder known as Angelman Syndrome which has robbed her of her speech, is the cause of frequent and often severe seizures, and has left her unable to walk without assistance. Fortunately, Cetarra is determined to explore the world on her own two feet thanks to UCP of Sacramento and Northern California’s MOVE program and the Pacer.

The freedom of mobility

Cetarra’s smile reflects her new-found confidence by “standing and walking” with the assistance of the Pacer Gait Trainer.

Cetarra’s smile reflects her new-found confidence by “standing and walking” with the assistance of the Pacer Gait Trainer.

MOVE (Mobility Opportunities Via Education) utilizes the Rifton Pacer Gait Trainer, a walker-type device designed to give individuals with physical limitations the ability to walk upright. The Pacer can adjust to fit clients of all ages and adapt to their individual strength levels, providing various levels of support. Through MOVE, clients like Cetarra are able to enjoy assisted mobility for up to an hour per day, five days per week. Her parents, Melinda and Ty Lewis say, “We’ve noticed how respect from others tends to increase when Cetarra is using the Pacer. She’s able to stand on her own and not in a wheelchair with people looking down at her and it makes a difference. Spending much of her time in a wheelchair, or crawling when at home, Cetarra feels a sense of newfound freedom when she’s able to stand upright and look individuals in their eyes.”

MOVE Blog Photo 1

The Rifton Pacer Gait Trainer is designed to give individuals with physical limitations the ability to walk upright.

Since participating in UCP’s innovative MOVE program, Cetarra, 23, has experienced significant improvements in her health and physical strength. Each week, she’s able to set achievable goals, build her confidence, and increase her capacity of walking further and for longer durations. While using the Pacer, Cetarra has the opportunity to roam the North Highlands Campus of MOVE, admiring the little things along the way. As she continues to build her strength and independence with the use of the Rifton Pacer Gait Trainer, her quality of life is improving as well. Always happy and smiling, with UCP’s MOVE program, Cetarra now has even more to smile about and miles of places to explore.

UCP hopes to assist other clients in improving their independence in the future. Unfortunately, although incredibly productive, the Gait Pacer Trainer is also very expensive. A Rifton Pacer Gait Trainer with all of the necessary attachments costs $5,201 and can only be utilized by one client at a time. To see the many ways that you can support UCP’s clients in living a life without limits, click here.

Independent living and community-based learning

Ceterra attends UCP’s Sacramento Adult Growth Experience (AGE), an adult day program where she and her fellow attendees have the opportunity to use the Gait trainer and participate in the MOVE program on a weekly basis. The adult day program works with adults with significant cognitive disabilities due to conditions including autism, epilepsy, intellectual disability, Down syndrome or cerebral palsy. In addition, individuals with physical and/or behavioral challenges can also benefit by community-based learning of daily living skills, awareness along with verbal and non-verbal communication.

For many individuals with disabilities, relying on others is an everyday occurrence. After experiencing years of sedentary living, UCP clients are now increasing their independence through UCP’s MOVE program.  Through guided instruction and specialized equipment, UCP clients are learning self-help skills, increasing their ability to communicate and improve their range of motion, which leads to better health and increased dignity.

Know someone who could benefit by UCP Adult Growth Experience day programs or MOVE?

Here’s how to get involved:

1. Receive a diagnosis of a developmental disability by a medical doctor.

2. Obtain a referral of services by California Alta Regional Center.
3. California Alta Regional Center will pay for an adult 22 year and older.

Want to find out more? We will welcome parents/caregivers to take a tour of our Adult Growth Experience day programs. Contact the program closest to you to set up a tour!

Read more inspiring stories of our clients!

References and Resources
Adult Growth Experience (AGE): The AGE programs serve adults with significant cognitive disabilities. The program focuses on activities of daily living, verbal and non-verbal communication and community integration and awareness.

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One Response to “The Gift of Independence – A First Step of Many”

  1. Janet says:

    This sounds like a really great program. Thanks UCP for all the work you do for individuals with disabilities and their families!

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