Summit County’s early intervention program receives $24,000 grant |

Summit County’s early intervention program receives $24,000 grant

Anna Paula Battersby, age 2, smiles as she uses a gate trainer to help her walk. Summit County Health Department's early intervention program recently received a $24,000 federal grant to purchase new gate trainers and walkers for kids with mobile disabilities.
Courtesy of Jackie Swan

The Summit County Health Department’s early intervention team was recently awarded a $24,000 federal grant to purchase new equipment for children who are suffering from mobility and development delays.

The special projects grant can “make a big impact,” according to Susie Bond, director of the early intervention program with the Summit County Health Department. It will allow the early intervention team to purchase equipment for families that can’t afford it, Bond said. The equipment can cost nearly $3,000.

Bond stressed the importance of getting children moving who are not bearing weight on their legs or walking. She said early issues can affect future mobility and development.

“It impacts every area of development when they are delayed in this movement,” she said. “The average typical child will take 10,000 steps a day. If you have a child who doesn’t walk, they are missing out on vision, social and cognitive stimulations.”

Early intervention is a federally mandated program serving children between the ages of 1 and 3 with development delays and disabilities, such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy. The program is funded through the state and federal government, as well as patient fees and Medicaid.

“We have begged, borrowed and pleaded for new equipment,” she said. “But, we’ve had to make do.”

Every once in a while, Bond said, a special projects grant is offered. But, in her 17 years with the early intervention program, they had never received one until now.

“When we heard one was available, we said, ‘We really need to get on this,” she said.

The grant will allow the program to purchase brand new gate trainers and walkers that are specifically designed and measured for the child who will be using them. Once a child outgrows the program, Bond said, they will be able to refit the equipment for other children. She said three families are currently on the wait list. The program provides equipment for about 10 kids a year.

“With the grant money, we are also going to buy some Fitbits for kids,” she said. “We will be keeping track of the kids’ progress in a database to ensure we are making the gains we thought we would. The grant is here and as soon as we sit down and start ordering equipment we will have all of that available.”

Summit County’s early intervention program is located in the county’s health department and consists of a small team of therapists, as well as a public health nurse. It serves children in both Summit and Wasatch counties. Last year, more than 2,600 home visits were performed between the two counties, with 773 of the visits for occupational therapy and 269 for growth and motor physical therapy.

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