Trooper's Event Caters to Exceptional Children

By Reeger, Jennifer | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 24, 2008 | Go to article overview

Trooper's Event Caters to Exceptional Children


Reeger, Jennifer, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


"Can I?" seemed to be the question of the day Wednesday at Clelian Heights School for Exceptional Children.

"Can I pet the dog?"

"Can I get on the motorcycle?"

"Can I get in the police car?"

And all day, the special needs children asking the questions -- children used to people telling them what they can't do -- were told they can.

For the second year, state police Trooper Dale Gabriel of the Kiski Valley barracks organized Camp Clelian, a daylong program in which the special needs students at the school get a glimpse into the lives of police officers.

Gabriel, who volunteers at the school where his wife works, patterned the event after Camp Cadet, the state police's weeklong program for teens.

But this year, he opened the event to the entire school and not just the older students. Nearly 80 students participated.

"Last year, a lot of the younger ones showed an interest," Gabriel said. "I thought this year we'd just try everybody."

Troopers from various stations throughout southwestern Pennsylvania helped with demonstrations.

The children got to sit on motorcycles before three troopers showed off their riding skills.

They waved and then shielded their faces from the wind generated as a state police helicopter landed on a basketball court behind the school.

They donned the helmets and heavy vests worn by members of the Special Emergency Response Team.

And they got to meet Iggy, a 3-year-old drug dog, and his handler, Trooper Brian Peters.

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