Program brings help to the classroom

September 17, 2009 10:15:05 AM PDT
One of the solutions for successfully integrating children with disabilities in educational inclusion programs are services from organizations like Belle Center. Belle Center of Chicago is dedicated to providing support to children with disabilities and their families in their daily environment.

Three-and-half-year-old Colin Cuerrero has Down syndrome. He attends an inclusion daycare program with the support of an occupational therapist provided by Belle Center.

Nancy Buchanan is the center's executive director.

"We don't often do our therapies in a room by themselves, more clinical approach, I would say because we feel like the things kids learn in therapy transfer better if they're done in a natural environment," Buchanan said. "We go out into the community, our services are in the classroom."

"We have five on staff, we have two speech therapists, two occupational therapists and an inclusion educator," said Buchanan.

Christina Rivera's 14-year-old son Rene has autism. He has been receiving services from the Belle Center for almost 10 years.

"He got developmental, he got occupational, he got full works from the beginning," said Rivera. "They come into the classroom where his peers are and help him with in the classroom."

"They not only focus on the child, they focus on the family," Rivera said.

"We serve kids from 3 through high school," said Buchanan. "We serve people that have insurance, but we never turn people away for inability to pay. We have a scholarship program, we accept public aid, and part of our mission is we meet families where they are, and that means with ability and financially."

Colin's mom Tracy Taylor says her son is doing great.

"Its been two months now, and we can totally see the difference that has made, and he loves his therapist and says hello to her everyday...so it's working out perfectly for us," said Taylor.

Belle Center provide services to approximately 75 to 100 children per year. They cover the Chicagoland area. For more information go to www.bellecenter.com.


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