Crusade for Children

Marion County Public Schools will soon have a new tool to help students improve attention and overcome motor skills issues thanks to a $10,500 WHAS Crusade for Children grant.

Members of the Exceptional Child Education department in MCPS wrote the Crusade for Children grant application seeking an Interactive Metronome rehabilitation package-- a set of tools used to help children who receive services from the district’s physical and occupational therapy programs.

“It’s a really cool technology that helps kiddos that have challenges with attention and motor-planning,” MCPS ECE Director Dr. Traci Sharpe said. “It retrains the neurological pathways to have better focus, attention, and motor-planning. It’s pretty complicated but we have individuals who are trained to use that.”

Sharpe and the district’s physical and occupational therapists completed the grant application and found out they had been awarded the grant just before fall break.

“We’re very excited to get this metronome and see the impact it has for our students,” Sharpe added. “I’m a believer in it because I’ve seen kids be able to improve [using the technology].”

While the tools are typically found in a medial-based therapy setting, Sharpe said that the district is hoping they will provide another way to help students who need support.

“We’re trying to continue to do everything we can to improve our practices and be as forward-thinking and proactive as we can,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe also noted the importance of community support in receiving the funds to purchase the equipment.

“The money they send back to the schools typically correlates with the amount of money that’s raised in the community,” she said. “One-hundred percent of money raised in a community goes back to that community [...] Marion County is very generous. And we’ve had our schools who have worked together to raise money.” Sharpe also noted that the schools would have raised even more money if the school year had not been interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sharpe said that it is not uncommon for a district the size of MCPS to have access to an Interactive Metronome, but school districts don’t always have personnel trained to use it. 

Currently, MCPS has one therapist, Sarah Hamilton, who is trained to use the equipment and fellow therapists JIll Edlin and  Beth Mudd will receive the appropriate training. 

Sharpe is also hopeful that the district will eventually be able to have additional Interactive Metronomes.

“It’s a big investment, but we’ll start with one package and then hopefully we’ll get to build and expand on that,” she said.