December 20, 2011

High Hopes gives every child a chance to reach for the stars

High Hopes' Inchworm Room features literacy concepts incorporated throughout the classroom to provide multiple modes of learning during the day. (image courtesy of High Hopes)

High Hopes' Inchworm Room features literacy concepts incorporated throughout the classroom to provide multiple modes of learning during the day. (image courtesy of High Hopes)

The diagnosis of a serious or complex disability in a child often dashes the hopes and dreams parents have for that child’s future. They wonder what their child’s life will be like, how independent he or she will become, and what kinds of relationships he or she will develop. And often they wonder how they will coordinate the multiple services their child may require in order to reach their full potential – and how to pay for it all.

High Hopes seeks to address many of these questions by combining an inclusive preschool that educates children with special needs alongside their typically developing peers and a comprehensive pediatric therapy clinic that offers a wide range of outpatient therapy services for children and youth up to age 21. Thanks to charitable contributions, it is able to offer its services affordably.

Gifts can be made to this and other community agencies through Dec. 31.

Once an informal, homegrown gathering of families, High Hopes now has eight preschool classrooms and helps children and youth with special needs develop their motor, occupational, speech and listening skills in one convenient location.

High Hopes board director Caren Williams’ five-year-old daughter Elena, born with a rare chromosomal disorder that caused developmental delays, has gone to High Hopes since she was six months old. Although her initial prognosis was discouraging, Elena can now walk, run, sign, verbalize and eat solid food and will be able to transition to a mainstream kindergarten.

“These achievements were once only dreams that my husband and I held for our daughter,” Williams said.

Parents of typically developing students at High Hopes’ preschool are just as grateful for the opportunities the school offers their children. Mike and Sarah Thomas are delighted by their daughter Adeline’s friendship with Bennett Speck, who has cerebral palsy.

“Although we knew the inclusive setting was the perfect place for our daughter, we did not realize the magnitude in which she would benefit. Her friendship with Bennett has taught her that each of her friends have unique needs.”

“School has been overwhelming for [Bennett] at times, but thanks to amazing teachers and special friends like Adeline, his transition to the school environment has been a real success,” said Bennett’s parents, Travis and Kelly Speck. “Bennett has gotten to the place where he will interact socially with other children, whereas prior to coming to school, he rarely even noticed any kids who tried to interact with him.”

High Hopes is a member agency of Community Health Charities of Tennessee, a federation of health organizations that have joined together to raise contributions in the workplace. Community Health Charities enhances the operations, programs and services of its 43 health-related member charities in the state. You may designate High Hopes or any Community Health Charities member organization when you give to the community through Vanderbilt Gives.

“Community Health Charities connects donors in the workplace with our nation’s most trusted health charities,” said Stephanie Creasy, campaign coordinator at Community Health Charities of Tennessee. “When you select one or more of our local charities, you are assured that a difference is being made in someone’s life.

“Employees at Vanderbilt always give generously, and your money makes a tremendous impact in our community,” Creasy said.

Community giving is tax-deductible and continues through Dec. 31. Payroll deduction makes it easy to spread a gift out over 12 months, and deductions begin January 2012. Visit Vanderbilt Gives for more information about giving options and to make your gift today.

The Fish Room, a large underwater-themed multipurpose gym, offers a fun environment in which children can play and learn. (image courtesy of High Hopes)

The Fish Room, a large underwater-themed multipurpose gym, offers a fun environment in which children can play and learn. (image courtesy of High Hopes)