Cerebral Palsy Challenges In Central California

Fresno, CA 120 smiling, vibrant and eager students call United Cerebral Palsy, or U.C.P. of Central California, their second home.

"I feel free everywhere," said student Christine Bideaux.

Patsy Fields said: "I'm glad, I'm here and it makes me feel good."

And Karen Kyle said: "So much fun and so much freedom."

But now state budget cuts threaten the freedom found in this East Central Fresno center. Executive Director Jamie Marrash expects this center will lose over $200,000 this year.

"I've seen the ebbs and flows of the state budget and seen the impact on social services throughout California. This is the worst that I've ever seen," said Marrash.

The number of students who enjoy and rely on classes like art, learn computer skills to send email to friends and depend on physical exercise could slowly disappear.

"I wouldn't know what to do. I'd probably stay home," said Fields.

Patsy Fields is able to get the release she needs mentally and physically here. So is Karen Kyle who loves answering phones.

"That's important because many disabled people go to work," exclaimed Kyle.

Steven Jones said "this place is really their outside life, their freedom." Jones, like every teacher here, has not received a pay increase for two years. Benefits have also shrunk to the bare minimum.

"It's hard at times, it's hard for my family. But it's something I'm dedicated to," said Jones.

Budget cuts may also force a shorter work week at this center. Marrash and her team hope fundraising events and donations will help cushion this financial blow and preserve the quality of life for all of the students here.

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