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Education grant gets students moving

Rowan Pruitt is coached by Dana Sperry, while doing the ski jump exercise using a Wii Console through a Smart board.

It was a light bulb moment for Hudson School District's occupational therapist, Dana Sperry, as he watched his 90-year-old father bowling using the Wii.

"A friend of his kept encouraging him to buy one," said Sperry. "I saw the use he was getting in his legs and other areas. Bowling was his favorite activity."

"That was the motivating incident," said Sperry. "I could see the same benefit for the students. It would be a great recreational activity and some of them would have the system at home as well."

He applied for and received a $3,000 grant from the Hudson Educational Foundation late last spring. With it he purchased three complete systems including Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports. Sperry began using them last fall at both North Hudson Elementary School and the Hudson Middle School. He has one high school student who also participated by using the system at the middle school.

"I see the benefits for the younger kids, as therapeutic," said Sperry, who works with the general population but focuses on special-needs students. "For the older students it is recreational, builds social skills and teaches turn taking."

"Yoga is a favorite and it gets them to do body work and stretching," said Jill French-Graebner, physical therapist. "For most of these kids visual learning is so much higher than auditory learning so seeing this on the Smart board is terrific."

"The concentration is there too, you can see them focus and be interested in it," said French-Graebner. "Plus it is something they can do with a sibling."

With over 50 different activities available it helps students build core strength, balance and coordination.

"This helps them in sitting both at a table and a desk," said Sperry.

The third system Sperry hopes to install at the Bridge's transitional house for special needs high school students.

"You see how much the students want to succeed," said Sperry. "With the Wii there are immediate results."