Locally Made Monday - Deer Run Wilderness Area

By ANDREW LOGSDON | alogsdon@wfft.com

Published 07/14 2014 09:23PM

Updated 07/15 2014 08:56AM

For years the Allen County Juvenile Detention Center used it for rehabilitation therapy.

Now that it's in the hands of the Allen County Parks, the Deer Run Wilderness Area is helping kids with developmental disorders.

It’s this week’s Locally Made Monday.

The Allen County Parks have teamed up with Dunn Associates, a Fort Wayne psychological and counseling center, to create an outdoor program for kids with ADHD and autism.

It's a case of locally made therapy.

"We especially want to address the issues of add issues and the whole spectrum of that,” says Michael Gobert of the Allen County Parks.

Gobert designed the program that uses a thirty-element ropes course as a form of wilderness therapy.

"Summer, this is going to be the day programs, the morning and afternoon.
 When we get to the school year we'll have an afternoon program,” Gobert says.

The Deer Run Wilderness Area is a 110-acre site with a 14 1/2 acre lake, thirty-site campground, and the ropes course.

"I design psychotherapy groups to come out here to work on basically impulse control and social skills simultaneously,” says Donovan Martin of Dunn Associates.

The kids, aged nine to seventeen, have to work together on the ropes course- including a seventy-foot climbing tower with one-hundred foot zipline.

"The concept is that based on ADHD, the brain is impulsive, and so out here on the course, we can put them through different elements where they have to delay the impulse, and we can recondition that response,” Martin says.

It's currently program-based with two sessions a day.

But therapist martin says they are open to other agencies and companies joining in.

"Experiential therapy is by far the most successful therapy because it has the largest effects size. The problem isn't really creating the effect, the problem is sustaining the effect,” Martin says.

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