Families find ways to help children with challenges exercise

Published: Monday, Sept. 9 2013 6:55 p.m. MDT

In 30 minutes of gym time, Schwobe and aides move children from their wheelchairs to modified bicycles, to warm up their muscles and get the children moving.

On a recent Thursday, a group participated in modified bowling. Schwobe placed the ball on a ramp in the gym. He guided Connor Bruce's hand to the ball and helped him press against the ball.

"Push," he said.

He uses this technique — called a full physical prompt — to help the students who cannot do this on their own.

Eventually he plans to scale back his assistance until Bruce is able to push the ball on his own.

Those in the gym cheer when Bruce's ball knocks down several pins filled with material that make them sound like maracas when they tumble. This is part of Schwobe's method as well. Loud sounds and cheers help the students know when they've succeeded.

Bruce is calm as he is pushed around the gym on the bike. The pedals are attached to strings to help propel the foot around.

At the end of gym class, Bruce is transferred back to his wheelchair where he begins to squirm. He smiles as Thompson struggles to get his hiking shoe back on his foot.

A few feet away, a room is filled with gym equipment: two treadmills, a stationary bike, a machine for arm exercises and free weights.

Schwobe has three boys rotating from station to station. He taps Brady Cook's arm to remind him to squeeze the workout equipment as he explained that they are teaching the kids to develop "tenacity." As they learn to push in accomplishing goals with weights, they develop the ability to push through obstacles in life.

Walking to S.L.

The Allens began their walk in February but did not start tracking their progress until they were just north of Cedar City.

They bought Bob Allen some "fancy Nike shoes" that he has worn out already, which they repair with shoe goo.

"We're going to make it," David Allen said.

They take their time, both to accommodate Bob Allen's physical limitations and his quirks. An avid fan of the TV show "Monk," Bob Allen touches all of the reflector posts along the route, similar to how the show's star touches parking meters as he walks down the street.

The two will walk on days or mornings when the weather is cool, avoiding temperatures above 80 degrees. At the onset, Bob Allen could barely walk a mile without stopping. They brought small camp chairs so he could rest along the way. Now the two log five to seven miles a day, stopping about once every few miles.

On a walking day, they will drive out to where they left off the last time. Bob Allen's' mom, Kathy, drops them off and drives a mile or two ahead. When they reach the car, they stop and rest, and set off again.

"He got pretty discouraged at about 100 miles, that this was a long ways," David Allen laughed. "But at that point there was a downhill so that helped spur him on."

At the end of most walks, Bob Allen gets a chocolate milk, and is in high spirits, David Allen said.

"He's just about tickled because he knows he did it. It's a real self-worth thing," he said.

Since they have been walking, Bob Allen's "observation skills" have improved "400 percent," his father said.

The two have made it through Utah County and around Point of the Mountain. They plan to reach South Jordan by Sept. 14 for the National Down Syndrome Society's buddy walk.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com

Twitter: whitevs7

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