LEWISTON – Staff from the Child Health Center’s three sites recently joined together for the first time under the leadership of Rob Hatch, new executive director. Throughout his first six months at the agency he has worked with each of the program directors to become familiar with all eight programs and has spent time with individual employees, getting acquainted with the staff.

This was Hatch’s first full agency meeting and he wanted to add something outside the mandatory workplace trainings, so he asked Tish Caldwell, wellness coordinator at the Auburn/Lewiston YMCA, to offer the staff some ways in which to relax during their workday.

Caldwell said, “Yoga is a practice that draws on many ancient and modern traditions. It combines physical stretching and toning exercises with deep breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques to reduce stress level. She said chronic stress decreases efficiency in the workplace and causes an increase in the number of sick days used.

Caldwell demonstrated methods of releasing tension as well as methods of increasing energy level. She said using yoga can help reduce physical demands that cause backaches, carpal tunnel syndrome and headaches

Hatch shared his ambitions for the agency and his ideas for furthering the changes occurring in several programs. Hatch addressed the transitioning of the two traditional “preschools” into developmental therapy preschools.

Over the past few years the Child Health Center has offered preschools in Norway and in Auburn that mainstreamed typically developing children and children with developmental delays.

Former executive director Roy Gedat noted that there was a need for a program dedicated to working with children who have special needs. The transformation started in the spring, and Hatch has continued the effort during his short term.

Hatch reported that the transition is going well, with both sites improving the design in order to address the individual needs of those who attend. He reported that at both sites, teachers who have state certification as special education developmental therapists, have been hired and are working with the staff to make adjustments in the classroom to better meet the children’s needs. Each site has also hired an occupational therapist.

The Child Health Center is a nonprofit organization, located in Norway, Auburn and Dixfield. It strives to improve the lives of children and their families throughout Oxford, Androscoggin, southern Franklin and northern Cumberland counties. For more information, call 743-7035 or 782-5437.

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