Children First: Program helping students in Tulare Co. cope with learning disabilities

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Walk into Room 701 at Liberty Elementary School in Tulare County, and you will find a relaxing setting.

Where students practice breathing techniques with a Hoberman sphere.

"It teaches them the skill of what calm is like so they can react better in difficult situations and they can problem solve when they are in a calmer state," said Intervention Resource Teacher Deanna Cardoza.

Gianna has ADHD.

Mindfulness meditation helps her if she is having a bad day.

"If I don't use my coping skills right, I'll like explode kind of. I'll be mad at everyone and they'll be like what's wrong," said Gianna.

Gianna's outlook on life has improved thanks to the coping skills learned here at Liberty's IRC or Intervention Resource Classroom.

"I started taking deep breaths and she said do your coping skills, and I started taking deep breaths and I listened to music," said Gianna.

Students can get a break pass to seek help or comfort at IRC.

"it just resets them and then they get back to the class and they didn't act out in class, they didn't argue with their teacher, they didn't cause a scene, they didn't pound on their desk it's just a more appropriate way for students to handle their emotions," said Cordoza.

IRC provides students with extra support including therapy, social skills, and academics.

"We try to engage all senses, that' s one of our main goals right. Lighting, the sense of smell, music, we constantly play music in the background, we do have areas that are very comfortable and that's for the student to feel safe and facilitate that de-escalation process," said Program Specialist, Abraham Muñoz.

Special fidgets can help students express what's bothering them.

Our Children First sponsor, Tulare County Office of Education operates 17 IRC sites throughout the county.

Social Emotional Wellness is at the heart of the program.

"With students social-emotional wellness when those needs are met we see them excel in the academics, in the peer relationships with the teacher-student relationships and just how they feel about themselves," said IRC program manager Tiffany Stark.

Students can collect tickets for positive behavior and exchange them for snacks or extra computer time.

IRC goals include increasing student attendance, academic achievement, appropriate skills, and parent participation. While decreasing problem behavior and school suspensions.

"Educators across the board are really in this profession because they care about kids so don't be afraid to ask questions, stand up for your child, advocate for your child and be a partner with the educational system and I think together we can have great outcomes for all of our children," said Tulare County Superintendent, Tim Hire.

"Through IRC and all the help they have given her, it's changed her like 100 percent almost, there are a lot more changes that can be done, but they've helped her out so much I'm thankful for it," said Gianna's grandmother Donna Araujo.

Gianna is finding ways to express her creativity with a colorful flair and a calm mind.

"If I didn't have IRC or the help I had, I probably wouldn't be here because I used to be very bad and I'm actually proud I'm in IRC and that they have this at the school," said Gianna.
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