To Heather Brown, a good friend, an independent spirit, a happy kid. As a student in the community travel program, Heather embodied all the best qualities. She worked hard to be independent. She never gave up. She lived everyday with an innocence and purity that affected the atmosphere of the entire school. There was empathy in her face; always a sweetness that filled her friends with warmth. She made all our lives richer.

Several years have passed since Heather died, and more children have passed away from the serious disorders that accompanied their birth. There is a common bond that these young people shared. Their bodies suffered pain and discomfort throughout their lives, and yet all of them were simply in the business of being kids; they took one day at a time and tried to find the fun and the quality moments. They were gentle, kind, good humored, fun loving, and sensitive children. We consider ourselves honored to have been their teachers and friends.

In many ways this program is about living a quality life, having friends and relationships, laughing, experiencing life. The lesson plans are here, the outcomes neatly organized, the lofty goals articulated, all the academics are here as they should be, but it's the quality of life that matters. What the teachers remember after all the years of providing this program is the happy look on kid's faces, and the sound of their laughter.

Hope, Cures, and the Future

When I started teaching (working with children in special education) in 1980, I could never have said that there was hope on the horizon for any kind of cure or repair of body damage. It would have been irresponsible and emotionally harmful to make such cruel statements. We still have to be very careful and sensitive. Since 1980 however, as the years raced forward, hope and even expectation of progress, began to build. This is primarily because of computer technology (technological progress in general). I have a picture from the early 1980s that shows a group of kids watching a sporting event in the gym. The kids are all in silver manual wheelchairs. A modern day picture (I write this is 2004) would show all the children in multi-colored, variously complex power chairs (and they would be participants in the sporting event; wheelchair basketball is a favorite in our school).

Biotechnology, nanotechnology, and communications technologies are revolutionizing special education (not as fast as they should be, but that's another story). This means that as time goes by, fewer and fewer children will die from their impairments, fewer will even reach special education, and more and more often there will be technologies, medications, and surgeries that cure or repair damage. Someday there will be no special education (as we know it). For now, we will surround the children with positive energy, train them to use the available technologies as they evolve, and make the most of every moment.


I noticed over the years that many of the most talented, dedicated, and hardest working leaders in education find themselves handing out awards to others when they themselves ought to be getting the awards, praise, and recognition. These same leaders get called upon to write forewords to curriculum guides. Two of my favorite people, Jim Royle and Jean Foster, composed the paragraphs below in support of my work (when it was their farsighted leadership that opened the doors that made the community travel program possible).

"We hope you agree that effective normalization must include skill training in the community. It is with this general goal in mind that we offer the following curriculum. We know that students completing this experience in community based education will come away with a high degree of self-confidence and a personal pride in their accomplishments.

"Symbol based, classroom-bound education does not completely serve the needs of children in special education. Functional, practical life skills must be addressed in the real world. The community travel program at the Millet Learning Center has a positive, effective history of teaching essential daily living skills to handicapped students. Beyond that, the program is a model for teaching navigationally impaired children to find their way safely and efficiently throughout their communities. Most visually impaired students, and many physically impaired students have difficulty finding their way in space. We are proud of the unique approach that this program offers these students.

"This program is not an add-on to the academics of regular education, it is a critical, necessary cornerstone of the educational curriculum for handicapped students. It is also the way the orientation and mobility specialist and physical therapy staff serve these children. If they did not offer this group training with team teaching, the fifty or so students in the "program" would have to be seen individually. This would require the hiring of additional staff. This is a cost effective, proven, and well thoughtout design for addressing the needs of children in special education. The community travel program has proven itself since it was created in the early 1980's. Students and their parents love the program, the staff is proud of all we accomplished, and the community is supportive and involved.

"Good teaching, good programs, and great teams, are about personal chemistry. The community travel program grew out of the determination and focus of a dedicated group of staff members at the Millet Learning Center in Bridgeport, Michigan. The right chemistry has done wonders for the morale and abilities of hundreds of handicapped students in our communities. We are very proud of this work."

Professor James Royle
Department of Education
Saginaw Valley State University
Former Director: Melvin G. Millet Learning Center

Jeanne Foster, Supervisor of Special Services
Saginaw Intermediate School District

Introduction to Community Travel

The purpose of the community travel program is to help students in special education become more independent. We want students to arrange for their own transportation, to eat with friends in restaurants without adult supervision, to use public bathrooms, to ask for help from appropriate people, and to handle money and be responsible for time management. We want them to learn the fun things there are to do in the community. In the end, we want them to transfer what they have learned in the community travel program to their own neighborhoods; to freely move about their home town without direct adult supervision.

Independence is a relative concept. If a student can travel at the local mall for three hours before needing attendant services for bathrooming, then the student is independent for three hours. One objective for this student might be to increase independence in the community to four hours. The overall goal is to stretch the degree of self sufficiency. Independence is a powerful high. Any degree of freedom is appreciated.

Independence is relative in another way. Few of us travel or shop alone. We take along a friend or relative, especially if we want to add an element of fun. For this reason, we teach handicapped students to help each other as part of a travel team. Where a single student might be dependent, a team of friends can be independent. One member of a team might be able to read, another to reach, a third might have a limited ability to walk, or have better vision, or be better at staying oriented. We carefully structure teams to provide for group independence.

The community travel program is a critical part of the special education curriculum. Handicapped children will not develop independence during the normal course of their lives unless parents and educators intercede. Early and vigorous intervention is vital. Failure to combat dependency eventually places a financial and emotional burden on the society and drastically reduces the quality of life for individuals.

Many forces conspire to deprive special education students of independence. It is not easy for parents to load and unload heavy wheelchairs, or to cope with architectural barriers. Long hours of therapy are often necessary to give handicapped children the range of motion and steadiness to handle even simple tasks like self feeding or handling money. Few children in special education have single impairments; multiple impairments are the rule. Students have sensory, motor, cognitive, and emotional conditions that will result in dependency if we fail to actively teach them how to be independent.

Surgeries, with long recuperation periods, interfere with a child's opportunity to explore the community. Independent travel is further complicated by perceptual problems, sensory deficits, communication disorders and incontinence. A carefully structured community travel program is necessary to combat these barriers to independence.

The Millet Learning Center community travel program runs for a variable number of years, depending on the needs of individual students. Children progress through increasingly demanding curricular levels at a speed appropriate for them. It is not uncommon for students to repeat levels. Our goal is not to move smoothly through the lesson plans, but rather to have children demonstrate competence and master objectives. We also move students to other teams if we feel that is in their best interest. We try very hard not to divide teams that have been together for several years, although we do add new members when circumstances warrant.

Optional lesson plans for classroom teachers are provided in this booklet for use with students entering the community travel program the following year. Both the therapist and mobility specialist provide suggestions for the teacher. These classroom based lessons provide students with an introduction to the expectations and basic skills needed for community travel.

The first objective of the classroom lesson plans is strongly and repeatedly stressed: students must understand the reason they are participating in the community travel program. They must repeat back that they are learning to be independent, to do things for themselves. During these early lessons, students practice giving and receiving directions; they review safety rules and procedures on the public lift busses; they practice restaurant skills, phone skills, time and money skills; they use calculators and digital watches. Physically impaired students can also receive extensive drivers training lessons with a power wheelchair (a therapist acts as a consultant for these lessons).

Initial classroom lessons are option, but they are strongly recommended. Many students, however, enter their first year of community based education with no prior preparation (and most do well).

At level one (the first year of community based training), students learn to be independent at an indoor mall. All the basic skills are introduced at this level: asking for help, restaurant skills, using the public bathroom, safe driving in a crowded environment, accessibility, time and money management, working as a member of a team, problem solving, being a leader, learning to follow, and demonstrating appropriate social interaction with friends, with strangers, and with store clerks. The indoor mall provides a year round, temperature controlled environment with few architectural barriers.

The second level (and subsequent levels) build on the foundation of the beginning lessons. Level two focuses on time and money management, and on spatial skill development. During the third level, students learn about neighborhoods, traveling to a residential area, to a small business district, and to downtown Saginaw (Bay City, Midland, etc.). Students are taught how to handle sidewalks, driveways, blended curbs, and street crossings.

Crossing streets safely is especially important for blind, deafblind and severely visually impaired children; these lessons complement those of the mobility specialist. For physically impaired children, especially those in power wheelchairs, these lessons might be all they ever formally receive. Being low in a wheelchair, handling the up and down ramps on sidewalks, and learning appropriate listening and looking skills are especially important for severely physically impaired students. Outdoor, neighborhood lessons occur in the warmer months, while independent lessons continue indoors during the winter months.

Level four teaches travel in outdoor malls and in grocery stores. Level four is also the time when we introduce independent lessons. During an independent lesson, student teams handle assignments without adult intervention. They arrange transportation, shop on their own, eat on their own, and are responsible for time and money decisions. Staff is present on these independent lessons, but students are told to ignore their teachers unless a serious problem arises. During the fourth year the staff moves from a teaching role to a coaching role. Students are shown the game plan at the beginning of the day, and then sent out to play the game of independence as a team. If the game is going well, the coaches do not interfere. If it is a bad day, with frustration building, or potential for personal or property damage, the coaches "blow the whistle," reorganize the team, and then send them back out on the court with a fresh enthusiasm.

Advanced lessons begin at level five. During these lessons, we try to broaden student horizons by including destinations in neighboring communities. Depending on the needs of individual students, the fifth level can include apartment living, tag along lessons (independent lessons occurring while the staff is teaching another team), competence in the student's home community, and a continuation of student selected special destination lessons. Our hope at this level is that students will transfer what they learned to their own community or to their new living arrangements.

The five year program (six, if teachers use the optional lessons) is balanced so that our "nearness" to students is gradually faded, while independence (and later, the sense of responsibility) is gradually (and proportionately) increased. At the beginning, we talk constantly to students, never letting them out of our sight. We strongly structure each lesson (from the moment they arrive, to the moment they leave), and we continually pump positive, self-image inflating energy into everyone . The first, and even the second years hold close to this pattern. Each year, but especially by year five, we expect more independent behavior, we talk less, give the kids more space (more free, un-monitored time), and we become more demanding. By level four and five, students often go unmonitored for longer periods of time (up to fifteen minutes). Adjustments and exceptions are made considering the individual needs of each student.

Special lessons are provided for blind students, for visually impaired students, for students entering the program from the mainstream (older, more experienced students), and for students who use augmentative communication.

Lessons last an entire school day, one time a month. Detailed lesson plans for each level are provided to parents at each IEPC.

There is much more to the community travel program than the lessons. To fully understand the program it is necessary to look at a typical day in the community.

The rest of the story: A Typical Day in the Community

Visitors are welcome on community travel lessons. Parents come, teachers and aides help out, members of the Millet support staff attend selected lessons, and quite often we have college students observe the program. Community travel students quickly become accustomed to "guests". As the teaching day progresses we inevitably end up explaining to our guests that "the lesson is not the lesson."

The main theme of a lesson might be "wheelchair accessibility." We take students to various restaurants and discuss fast food versus having a waiter assist them. We go to a few public bathrooms and compare ease of use of the various facilities. But we are not especially concerned how deeply students grasp the ideas of the "lessons." We know, for example, that the issue of accessibility will arise many times as we explore the community over the five year span of the program.

The days lesson is only one small element within the experience of community travel. Consider the functional, practical responsibilities that students face on every trip into the community:

1. Students are responsible for arranging transportation. They work on telephone skills, social skills, planning ahead and following through with plans.

2. Physically impaired students are responsible for having their wheelchairs in good working order on the day of lessons (batteries charged, wheels inflated, brakes in good condition, etc.). Visually impaired students are expected to have their optical aids with them and in good working order. Blind children need their canes and their electronic travel aids ready and working. Augmentative communication devices must be programmed for the days lessons, charged, and in good working order.

3. Students must come to lessons prepared. They bring watches, calculators, money, and something to carry money in. If they have bathrooming responsibilities they need to have these taken care of, or have a plan of action for the day (cathing, for example).

4. Students are responsible for being safe on public transportation. The must also pay the driver and bring a receipt back to Millet.

5. Students must drive power wheelchairs responsibly in public places. Blind and visually impaired children must use their canes and travel aids appropriately.

6. Students are responsible at public lockers, using public telephones, and while using public bathrooms.

7. Students are responsible for safe and independent travel on escalators and elevators.

8. Students practice getting and giving directions. They are responsible for following directions accurately or getting help when they make mistakes.

9. Students are responsible for handling inaccessibility issues.

10. Students must act responsibly in public restaurants. They have to display appropriate restaurant skills (driving wheelchairs through restaurants and up to tables, ordering, talking in quiet voices, socializing appropriately, paying the bills, etc.)

11. Students must act responsibly in stores, ask for assistance, be polite, get what they wish to purchase, take it to the cashier and pay.

12. Students are responsible for money management, taking care that money is not lost, budgeting so that they have enough for lunch and for a purchase, using a calculator to figure a budget, etc.

13. Students are responsible for time management, using a digital or talking watch, remembering lunch and bus schedules, meeting friends and staff at designated times, etc.

14. Students are responsible for a portion of each lesson called "problem solving". They practice being the leader of the group in turn; they practice social skills and making eye contact; and they practice problem solving or brainstorming.

15. Students take turns leading their team through space to destinations; they are responsible for keeping the team together and for finding the way and asking for assistance as needed. When they are not leading, they practice following.

16. Students practice overcoming fears on every lesson. They gain new experiences and gain confidence with each trip into the community.

Foundations of Community Travel

Teaching Philosophy

This approach to delivering community based education to physically and navigationally impaired children at the Millet Learning Center started as a pilot study in the early 1980's with two visually impaired, wheelchair bound students. The program was so popular with parents, students, and teachers that it has expanded to over 30 students per year. Lessons are updated yearly, and are available in the curriculum guide. Students are referred to the program by POHI or VI teacher consultants based on input from parents, regular and special education teachers, and in consultation with therapy and mobility staff.

Team Teaching/Teaching Teams

Team teaching is a recognized, beneficial approach for delivering educational content. Educational research supports the concept of teaching and learning in teams.

Team teaching is more cost effective than teaching one child at a time. Much of this savings is in transportation costs. Additionally, if we did not use a team teaching approach to serve this population, additional staff might need to be hired to deliver the services these children are legally entitled to.

When team teaching, professionals compliment each others area of specialty. The physical therapist knows about vision, but not enough to work alone with children who have this impairment. The mobility specialist knows a great deal about vision and blindness, but not enough about physical impairments. There is an issue of liability, also.

Concentrated, Intensive Lessons

Problems facing children in special education are complex and difficult to solve. The traditional half hour lessons offered by support staff can only pick away at these problems over a very long time frame. However, when lessons are taught all day long, there is ample time to present new ideas and to practice solving problems.

Teaching Small Groups of Students

Children learn from peers. They learn by watching others struggle with and conquer problems. They are motivated to perform when others their own age are present. For children with impairments, it is often possible to cover for weakness and, at the same time, bring out personal strengths. For example, a blind child may need the help of others with mobility in unfamiliar areas, but that same child might also be able to assist a physically impaired student when good hand control is needed (putting coats in a locker, for example.). Teams of children can form an independent unit, even if individual children cannot be independent on their own.

Teaching Functional Skills

An entire section of the community travel curriculum (following this section) discusses the need for functional education. We need only say here that special educators learned long ago that handicapped children did not learn basic survival skills, navigational skills, and activities of daily living through osmosis. These skills have to be taught.

Teaching in the Real World

You cannot teach a child in special education to understand and correctly use money, for example, if the teaching is classroom based (using wooden nickels). To teach money concepts, teachers must take students into the real world and have them make actual purchases, using real money. This truth is so obvious and so important, it is incredulous that some of our colleagues are still using black and white laminated cutouts of bananas to teach students about fruit. Community travel is about real food, hanging from real trees.

Children are far more motivated to learn to navigate through space, or to reach and grasp using impaired limbs, if they are in an environment that they find stimulating. Classrooms soon lose their charm, while the local mall seems to retain a year long appeal.

A Five Year Curriculum: a set of goals, objectives, and outcomes

The goals and objectives of community travel constitute the best judgment presented by the special education staff concerning the problems and needs of students. Many of the objectives are mandated by federal and state laws. Other objectives reflect the professional opinion of Millet Center special education support staff.

An overview of the curriculum is discussed in the preface of this community travel booklet. The bulk of the curriculum guide contains details of lesson plans spread over a five year period.

One Objective on an IEP

"Community travel" is just one of several objectives listed on an IEP. Here is a typical list of objectives for one of the orientation and mobility specialist's students:

Objective One: Orientation training:
1. Community travel ("program")
2. Residential travel
Objective Two: Mobility training:
1. Cane skills
2. Gait training
Objective Three: Inservice regular education staff

Blind and severely visually impaired students typically are offered the multiple objectives listed above. For many visually impaired children, community travel is the single vehicle used to deliver services to this population. If we did not use this approach, another would have to take its place.

A Typical Travel Team

Here is a typical community travel team with their list of impairments; all the students in this team are boys from different school districts:

Student One: Deafblind, POHI

Student Two: Blind

Student Three: Severe navigational problems, perceptual problems, POHI

Student Four: Seizure disorder, severe asthma, POHI, intermittent visual and navigational problems depending on medication levels and current control of impairments, intermittent oculomotor anomalies

A Cost Efficient Method for Delivering Special Education Services

Special educators, especially support staff, often teach in half hour blocks of time. When students are in rural districts, staff must travel at least once a week per student, to teach for one half hour. Children is special education have a high rate of missing school (for doctors appointments, special events, surgeries, recuperation periods, etc.). Although it looks on paper as though a child is being seen once a week for a half hour, the truth is more like twice a month. The half hour, once a week, spend all day in the car, approach to teaching special education is old fashioned and wasteful.


The Community Travel Program is a five year long set of lesson plans taught to teams of students by teams of teachers. Students must be both physically and navigationally (usually visually) impaired. Lessons are functional in nature, take place in the real world, and are intensive (last all day). Community travel is only one of a set of objectives on many IEPs. In most cases, these objectives are federally mandated and fall within the guidelines of State of Michigan Special Educational Outcomes. Community travel is a far more effective use of funds and time than the older half-hour-once-a-week model of service delivery, and educationally it is far more effective than the traditional classroom based approach.

Problems Addressed During Lessons in the Community

The orientation and mobility specialist is primarily concerned with navigation problems. On all the travel teams there is at least one student who is either blind, deafblind, or severely visually impaired. These students have obvious problems moving purposefully through space. A less realized category of student is the child with specific navigational impairments. These students have damage to centers in the brain which are responsible for navigation. They can have excellent visual acuity, but still be unable to locate objectives in the community. A third category of students have oculomotor apraxias or insufficiencies. These children cannot consistently direct their eyes to gather information. These students have difficulty making eye contact, and they can get confused where they are in space. A fourth category of students have insufficient experience moving their bodies through space. These are the children who have been lead everywhere by adults. Once these students learn to use power wheelchairs and once they get sufficient practice, they learn very quickly to navigate.

The important thing to keep in mind about the above four categories is that most students in special education fall in more than one of the divisions. Oculomotor apraxias are almost the rule with severely physically impaired students, and special varieties of handicap, like spina bifeta, almost always have associated damage to navigational brain centers. The population of children needing mobility and orientation training is far larger than most people realize, even within the field of special education.

Physical and occupational therapists have their own list of problems being addressed on community travel lessons. These are discussed in the curriculum guide, but in summary they include: wheelchair drivers training, positional and gait correction, ADL skills, adaptive procedures and tools used in the real world, reaching and grasping, and perceptual/motor development. The orientation and mobility specialist is not qualified to work with these severely physically impaired children without the presence and support of a physical therapy staff professional. Also, for liability reasons, the mobility specialist does not think it wise to work alone with this population.

Many of the problems addressed by the mobility specialist and the therapist overlap. For Example, both professionals are concerned with gait, perceptual development, and ADL skills. Teaching approaches overlap and compliment.

At the Millet Learning Center, two groups of professionals share the responsibility for teaching community independence: orientation and mobility specialists, and therapists (physical and occupational).

Therapists teach daily living skills to physically impaired children. They also teach reaching, grasping, and use of adaptive tools. All these are best taught in the real world where children see first hand why the skills are relevant to their everyday lives. Students are selected for the community travel program by the therapy staff in concert with parents and teachers. Most students enter the program in early elementary school (ages 8 to 10).

Mobility specialists have evolved a curriculum designed to teach blind children to travel independently throughout communities. This curriculum was easily modified to teach other children in special education (besides blind). The main role of the mobility specialist is to design and teach the lessons.

The detailed roles of the therapist and of the mobility specialist are discussed in this curriculum guide. The remainder of this booklet contains lesson plan ideas for each year of the program.

For further information about the community travel program write to the address below:

Millet Learning Center
3660 Southfield Drive
Saginaw, Michigan 48601
or call the Millet Center at: (989) 777-2520

Physical Therapy Department: Deborah Parker
Orientation and Mobility: Doug Baldwin

Functional Education

There was a time in special education when classroom based academic training was the main emphasis. This seat-based training had (and still has) value for many children with impairments. The classroom approach is inadequate however for many practical life skills. In the long run under this academic approach, many physically (and/or multiply) impaired students grow up with symbol based knowledge, but with few practical competencies.

In 1989, Macomb Intermediate Schools published a paper called "My Other Brother, Daryl." This one page list of Daryl's "accomplishments" forcefully makes the point that the old habit of seat-based education fails special education students. Daryl is 18 years old and is mentally impaired. We could substitute a variety of impairments for "mental" and the same point could be as forcefully made. Here are some excerpts from "My Other Brother Daryl":

Because of special education and years of individual attention, Daryl learned a lot of things he couldn't do before. He can put 100 pegs into a pegboard with 95% accuracy in less than ten minutes!

But Daryl cannot put change into a vending machine to get his own pop.

Daryl can do other amazing things! He has developed a wonderful spatial intelligence. He can put a sugar cube behind a box, beside a box, in front of a box, and in the box. Just ask him to do it. His accuracy is near 100%!

The thing that bothers me, though, is this. Why can't Daryl empty his own trash at McDonalds, and how come he gets confused where the bathroom is?

Daryl can (with assistance) place a black piece of felt on the calendar date to show that today is rainy. My brother Daryl is pretty smart when it comes to the weather.

When it rains though, Daryl forgets to get an umbrella or raincoat. He just gets wet.

"My Other Brother Daryl" contains an entire list of Daryl's classroom accomplishments, all followed by an ironic and sad statement about Daryl's inability to function in the real world. Community based education at the Millet Learning Center is about doing practical, useful, functional things.

Symbol based education, by itself is not sufficient for students in special education, particularly those children with severe impairments. A demonstration used by trainers from the High Scope Foundation shows teachers how concrete instruction is superior to "traditional" symbol based education. High Scope training is directed toward regular education teachers, but the training is even more significant for multiply impaired students and their teachers. To make their point, High Scope trainers explore the teaching of the concept "apple."

A card is passed around the room. On the card is the word "apple." Teachers are asked what this word tells their students about apples. It is obvious that not much is learned about concepts from staring at the written word, yet many impaired children live in a world where the word is all they know about many concepts. Certainly in the symbol rich environment of the classroom, written language has a predominate place.

Next, a black and white laminated picture of an apple is passed around. Again the teachers are asked what the picture tells students about apples. More than a word, but not much more. Students can be very articulate in their descriptions, giving the impression that they are highly aware of their environment. Yet these students may have a shallow understanding of concepts.

Next around is a plastic apple. Now teachers report shape and color, but little else. Models have limited conceptual value, and the cognitive leap between simulation and reality is not always made (ie. rarely if ever made for the more severely impaired students). Particularly for children in special education, there is little transfer from the classroom to the real world.

Next around is a basket filled with real apples to be felt, cut up, smelled, and tasted. Here is a concept that has strength; a multi-sensory experience that is honest and has staying power. Good teachers use the real thing. Handicapped children need a greater exposure to reality than do students who do not have impairments.

Traveling to an orchard to explore apple trees and eating the fruit right off the tree is an even better educational experience. Now we are doing orientation and mobility. Now are doing community based education. Having taught a wide variety of children many years, we are convinced that the functional, practical approach to teaching handicapped children is far superior to the classroom model.

The Critical Importance of Movement

We often overlook two very significant aspects of human movement. I became aware of these general concepts after teaching for many years; my opinion is experience based and not the result of research (although I am sure there is much in the science that supports this overview).

First, I strongly believe that movement is required for the development of human intelligence. Children must move through space freely. They must examine and explore. The more they move about and explore, the greater is their cognitive development. Special education programs that provide opportunities for children to self-move through space are working at a very fundamental level to enhance the child's perceptual, conceptual, and overall cognitive abilities (apart from any "lesson plan").

Secondly, movement is a very powerful anti-depressant. Depression seems to come when we are not in control of our lives, when we feel that we are passive recipients and not active players. Imagine not even being able to be in control of one's own movement through space; having to be guided or pushed in a wheelchair everywhere. Lack of self-movement can cause depression. Then a downward spiral develops. The less a person does, the less they seem to want to do, and the more depressed they get. I am not, of course, talking about clinical depressions which seem related to chemical imbalances in the brain. But I am suggesting that mild brain level imbalances can be addressed by simply getting up and doing something purposeful. Exercise, for example, releases brain chemicals that give a natural high. My observations are that children who are "depressed" can be helped if they simply start self-moving through the environment. Perhaps that helps explain why the kids who are involved with community based training are so happy so often.


The community travel program could not exist without the encouragement and skill of a large number of people. We especially wish to thank the following individuals and organizations.

The community travel program serves handicapped students. We have yet to find a student who did not thrive on independence. We salute these young people for their determination and courage.

Parents are the key. We are lucky to count among our allies a team of stubborn, independent minded mothers and fathers. Nothing works well or for very long without high expectations from parents.

We are blessed with a farsighted, flexible, and good humored staff of administrators both at the Millet Learning Center and at the Intermediate School District. It's no wonder that community travel lessons are so much fun; there's no stress.

The community travel program exists because of a small group of physical and occupational therapists. It was their idea that such a program should happen. It was their stubborn persistence that made it happen.

Independence is not possible without a public transportation system that services handicapped people. We have a special partnership with the staff at the Saginaw Transit System. We count among our friends the drivers and dispatch operators. We thank them for all the years of patience and kindness.

The community of Saginaw reached out and embraced our students. The staff at Fashion Square Mall and the staff at the Greenery Restaurant in Hudsons evolved into our lesson plans over the years. We thank them for their smiles, their patience, and for their kindness.