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`DISABLED’ KIDS ARE `ENABLED’ BY ALPINE INTEGRATION PROJECT

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The novelty of having a classmate who comes to school in a wheelchair with the words "Hot Wheels" written across the back has worn off.

Heidi Bishop is just one of the gang at Aspen Elementary School in Orem, and she loves it."It is barely the beginning of the year but from the progress I've seen already, I feel she'll make a great deal of progress during the year," said Susan Bishop, Heidi's mother. Heidi has cerebral palsy and is multiply handicapped. She is one of five handicapped children - two in kindergarten and three in first grade - who are enrolled in an integration program at the Orem school.

The program at Aspen was begun this fall after parents requested the Alpine School District start neighborhood integration programs for their handicapped children. The integration program allows severely mentally handicapped children to attend regular schools, where they divide their time between a regular classroom and a special education classroom.

Those favoring such programs believe that, in addition to getting a better education, handicapped children learn more appropriate behavior in regular school settings and that other children become more accustomed to interacting with those who are handicapped.

Aspen was the second Alpine School to adopt an integration program. Geneva Elementary, also in Orem, is in its second year with the program.

Bishop admits she was frightened at first about putting her daughter into a regular school.

"I felt she looked so out of place," Bishop said. "I left the classroom on the first day almost in tears, wondering if it was the right thing to do. But the kids really did accept her and included her in their activities. She is so stimulated and motivated by it. She loves it."