Conductive Education is Invaluable to our Family

Conductive Education is Invaluable to our Family

For the past two years our daughter has participated in Conductive Education at Sara’s Garden in Wauseon, OH. Sara’s Garden is one of the few locations in the United States that offers this type of intense intervention service. After each summer session we have been amazed at the progress that she has made through the program.

She has participated in typical physical therapy since 10 months of age and we have seen so much more gains after a total of eight weeks of Conductive Education than after eight years of physical therapy. This type of treatment is amazing! The conductors that lead the sessions are also amazing. They know how to motivate, inspire, and teach our children so that they can do what doctors may have told us they would never do.

This summer, she began working, using a walker, with only the minimal assistance from her conductor. Never in her life has she gotten this close to finding independence in walking. Through their encouragement, her confidence increased, as did her ability. In her regular physical therapy sessions she has never been able to do this. While they worked on walking, something in the methodology of Conductive Education, really worked for her. This is a means to a more independent life for her.

I truly believe that if we had not found this treatment, she would be so much further behind in her independence that where she is now. Conductive Education is a wonderful method and is invaluable to our family! The unfortunate part is that there are minimal facilities in the United States that offer it. Sara’s Garden has been a God-send for our family. We have felt so supported, encouraged, and blessed to find and be able to utilize their expertise.

As a family, we know the benefit that Conductive Education has brought. We look forward to future sessions at Sara’s Garden. They have made a tremendous impact in the life of our child.

Life Changing, Not Life Ending

Life Changing, Not Life Ending

Over the years, we all experience “life changing” events; some good, some bad. How we choose to respond to these events can help to shape and define us. For Kim, one of her more profound life changing events occurred in 1991 when, at the age of 20, she became a quadriplegic due to injuries suffered in an automobile accident.

Kim did not allow this disability to stop her. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work, Kim dedicated her life to helping others. For years she served families working as a mental health counselor. Kim never imagined that something as seemingly harmless as a wound could alter her life’s work in a way that even paralysis never could.

As a quadriplegic, one of the first things you are taught in rehab is how important it is to take care of your skin. Because you lack sensation, you don’t know when you need to adjust the way you are sitting or lying down. If you don’t take care of your skin, pressure sores can occur. Sores can be very dangerous for many reasons. The main reason is potential infection. If not properly cared for, it is even possible to die from pressure sores.

In December 2014, Kim’s mom noticed a red mark on her tail bone. Kim was not aware that her wheelchair’s cushion was not properly inflated which caused a sore to develop. They started watching it right away but it was too late. Less than a week later, Kim was admitted to the hospital because the wound became infected. Kim’s health became critical and she was left fighting for her life when the wound became septic. Doctors performed several surgeries to remove the infected tissue.

When she was finally discharged from the hospital, she went home with a wound VAC connected to her and a PICC line in her arm. It took several months to regain her health and strength while receiving treatments and antibiotics to fight the infection and treat the wound. Unfortunately, the wound VAC didn’t seem to be helping. For the next 15 months Kim and her medical team battled the infection in the wound, always seeming to take one step forward and another step back. Ultimately, Kim was forced resign from her job in order to focus on wound treatment, pressure relief, and infection prevention.

After nearly a year and a half of little to no progress, doctors became concerned that there could be a deeper infection in the bone that was preventing the wound from healing. Kim underwent a number of MRIs in hopes of finding answers. While the MRIs did not find any further infection, they did uncover something even more concerning. In May 2016, a large mass was discovered in Kim’s lower intestine. Subsequent tests confirmed the mass to be a malignant colon cancer.

At this point, Kim’s wound treatment went on the back burner and the focus became treating her cancer.  In August 2016, Kim underwent surgery to have the mass removed and then began six grueling months of chemotherapy pills. Due to chemotherapy, her wound became even more vulnerable to infection and there was a huge risk that it could progress even further. Thankfully, while the wound did not heal, it did not get any worse during this time.

After being declared cancer free in February 2017, the priority and focus were once again directed back to healing Kim’s wound. Doctors once again attempted a wound VAC for four weeks. Just as before, there was no progress in healing the wound. She was informed that she may need to undergo a more involved surgery in order to heal the wound. Kim was ready for something new.

Kim told her doctor that she would like to receive Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) since nothing else had worked in over two years. Her doctor was very open to the idea and referred her to a hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, insurance ruled that HBOT treatment for Kim was non-reimbursable, leading her to Sara’s Garden.

She received a round of 40 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments at Sara’s Garden. After only one week of treatments, the wound had decreased by 1 cm in all directions (inwards from every side and upwards from the depth of the wound.) Kim’s doctors, nurses and mother were amazed at how well her wound responded to the oxygen treatments. One of her nurses said she had never seen a wound close up so fast in only on week’s time. Her surgeon even commented that for being a wound, it was one of the healthiest looking wounds he had ever seen. He felt that it was no longer necessary to surgically repair the wound and that she should continue to receive HBOT and allow the wound to heal itself. Kim was astonished that something as simple as oxygen and pressure could heal the way it does.

Through all the challenges that Kim has faced, she has refused to allow these “life changing” events to become “life ending” ones. She has faced each and every challenge with a fantastic attitude and sense of purpose. Kim has said that she is definitely a believer in HBOT and can’t wait to see what additional oxygen treatments will continue to do for her and help her to accomplish next.

No matter what you’ve been told, there is hope… for this and many other conditions. HBOT is treatment without drugs… without surgery… without pain.

Sensory Campaign Goal Achieved!

Sensory Campaign Goal Achieved!

We can hardly believe it! Because of your generous support, we were able to raise 100% of the funds needed to purchase our new sensory equipment!

On behalf of the entire team here at Sara’s Garden and New Horizons Academy, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to everyone who helped us reach this goal. Thank you for trusting in our ministry.  We treasure your partnership.

This sensory campaign was aimed at raising funds for a new LED interactive ball pool and calm and play crash pit for our students at New Horizons Academy. We believe these resources will be tremendous resource for the school and will offer something special for all of our children. They will provide both the energizing tactile stimulation from the ball pool as well as the calming and comforting effect from the calm and play crash pit.

Sensory Equipment Campaign
$4,199.00 – LED Interactive Ball Pool
$1,800.00 – Clear Balls for LED Ball Pool (Qty. 4,000)
$2,019.00 – Multi-Sensory Calm and Play Crash Pit
$8,018.00 – Total Project Cost or Campaign Goal

We are honored that so many of you have trusted Sara’s Garden with your gifts and donations! We know that many of you have made sacrifices this year in order to to continue supporting Sara’s Garden and for that we are so thankful. We appreciate you more than words can express!

Sara’s Garden is a 501(c)(3) organization. Your charitable contribution is tax deductible under 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, to the extent allowed by law. A receipt will be sent to you after your donation has been received to use for tax purposes.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call (419) 335-SARA, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

2018 Fundraising Events

2018 Fundraising Events

Our 2018 fundraising event dates have been set. Mark your calendars now and come share some great times!

  • Event Date: Friday, May 25, 2018
  • Event Location: Ironwood Golf Course, Wauseon, Ohio
  • Event Format: 4-Player Team Scramble
  • Event Cost: $75 per Player ($300 per Team)

Please join us for a great day of golf filled with fun, great food, skill contests and fabulous prizes. Take a day off work for a great cause and meet some of the amazing people you are golfing to help!

  • Event Date: Thursday, July 19, 2018
  • Event Location: The Hope Center at Sara’s Garden, Wauseon, Ohio
  • Paddles: $3 each or two for $5

A QuarterMania is a cross between an auction and a raffle where people ‘bid’ between 1-4 quarters to win great prizes. It’s fast paced, really simple, and it’s a load of fun! So… if you are ready for a fun-filled evening for a GREAT CAUSE, grab your QUARTERS and some FRIENDS and be there!

  • Event Date: Thursday, October 25, 2018
  • Event Location: Founder’s Hall at Sauder Village, Archbold, Ohio
  • Event Format: Reverse Raffle (with Many Additional Ways to Win!)
  • Event Cost: $40 per Player ($320 for Reserved Table of 8)

This is your chance to win beautiful handbags from the designers you love: Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren and Dooney & Bourke. Over 30 amazing designer handbags are available to win throughout the night!

We hope to see you at these fun-filled events in 2018. For more information regarding ticket information or event sponsorship opportunities, please contact Jackie at 419.335.SARA or via email at

Music Program Update

Music Program Update

We were so excited to begin providing a music program to the students last semester! This has been such an amazing experience to all of the students (and staff)!

The high school classes have learned four ukulele chords and are putting those into practice by playing several different songs. This coming semester, these classes will continue with a “Ukulele Hero” program and will also be studying some world music. A lot of students in this group started out the year VERY frustrated with the difficulty of learning a new instrument. It has been so rewarding to watch them recognize their own abilities and be able do things they never thought they were capable of!

The younger classes have been playing a variety of instruments, including bells, Boomwhackers, rhythm instruments and more. We have seen great progress with these classes in learning to recognize note shapes, learn their values and read rhythms.

We will be utilizing these new skills in the second half of the year as we begin to learn hand drumming on our new cajons. If you’re not familiar with a cajon, it’s a box-shaped instrument that plays a variety of sounds. The sound it makes is determined by the location and manner in which you hit the box. Feel free to stop in the music room and give it a try!

The younger classes seem to be glowing as they enter the music room. They cannot wait to hear a new song or touch a new instrument. The biggest change we have seen is in their willingness to sing on their own. In our last class before Christmas break, Melissa offered a small certificate and piece of candy to anyone who would sing a call and response song with her in front of their classmates. EVERY single student chose to participate… and almost all of them had a smile on their face the entire time!

The changes we’ve seen in each student, even in the short time we’ve been having class, have been so rewarding!

We are so grateful to everyone who has helped to make this new program such a huge success!

Upcoming STAR Curriculum Themes

Upcoming STAR Curriculum Themes

Over the past couple months, our staff has been hard at work creating amazing curriculum resources for our STAR classrooms. STAR stands for Systemic Teaching Achieving Results. Everyone has been working hard to fine tune the curriculum and materials to best meet the needs of the children and provides teachers with a one-of-a-kind curriculum that focuses on the unique learning needs of our students.

We are so excited to finally unveil our new curriculum for the STAR classrooms this semester! Each month, the curriculum will have a specific theme and all the materials will be related to that theme. Parents and caregivers will receive a weekly lesson plan that includes the target book, vocabulary and concepts, fine and gross motor goals, and songs we will working on with your kids.

The months of January and February will focus on:

  • Snowmen,
  • Snowflakes, and
  • Arctic animals.

We hope this hard work pays off both in terms of classroom success for the children as well as helping parents stay connected and involved with what your children are learning each week.

Hope in the Midst of Life ~ January 2018

Hope in the Midst of Life ~ January 2018

Sometimes the simplest things are the best.  The world can be very complicated, and I am sure that is true in trying to help children with challenges, but let’s talk about a simple thing that does some of the most powerful helping ever…

First you need to know that a popular thing to study right now in emotional health is “TRAUMA”.  Trauma changes how we function.  We all know “trauma” is something in life that is awful.  When most of us hear that word we think of the most horrible things we can imagine.  But there are three kinds of trauma.  The first is things that are in your life that shouldn’t be.  This might be an event that happened, like abuse.  The second kind of trauma is things that are absent from your life that should have been there.   This is very interesting, because this is not just the awful picture of a child that is neglected and not fed enough.  But it can be as “simple” as “When I was ten, nobody responded to me as I thought they should.”    What that last statement means is – we all have trauma whether or not we have experienced a horrific incident or neglect.  There is one more way we experience trauma.  This is through rumination.  Dr. Caroline Leaf says that rumination is continuing to dwell on and on about something that is not positive.  She says this causes the same physical and emotion effects as the first two types of trauma! Our brain changes the same way from the “big” things as it does the “smaller” things.

So there are many ways to be traumatized, and the reality is – we all have been traumatized in varying degrees. So why is this important?  This matters because we react and respond to the world around us through the lens of trauma thinking.  Which, simply put, is not positive, and we’re often sorry about it later.

But the great news is… there are many things we can do to heal!  One of the most significant and simplest is to help the “joy center” of our brains grow.  Behind your right eye is the right orbital pre-frontal cortex – your “joy center”.  This is the only place in your brain that continues to have the potential to grow throughout your entire life!

Typically when we think of things that “make us better”… they might not taste good, or they take a whole lot of effort and often aren’t very fun.  But the joy center is a very different story!  Remember how it is to look into a baby or toddler’s eyes that is happy to be with you!  That twinkle, that joy, is what we all need!

Let me explain.  If my husband walks into the room where our grandson is, our grandson lights up and is just delighted to see his grandpa, and grandpa is delighted to see him.  What happens when their eyes meet is more than just that “twinkle”.  A joy message goes back and forth between them at the rate of six times per second and every time it moves from person to person their joy centers increase their stored joy.

When a baby cries, an adult helps the baby by feeding or changing him and talking to him.  This is teaching that baby that it is possible to return from pain to joy.  Every time that baby experiences this, his  joy strength grows as well.  This is very important because we can only cope with pain / trauma if we have more joy than we have pain.

What I am telling you is one of the best “simple things” ever!  By helping little people, and not so little people, learn that it is possible to return from pain to joy – their joy strength grows.  In addition, being “happy to be with”… someone… and looking in their eyes with delight to be with them, causes joy strength to grow.  The greater joy strength every person has, the better each one copes with pain.

So cherish the simple things.  Go and smile and look in the eyes of someone and be happy to be with them.  You will not only help them cope with pain whenever it comes, but you will be helping yourself as well!

Janet Miller  MA LPCC