For nearly 42 years, Sandhills Children’s Center has been providing the best start for children with and without disabilities, ages birth through 5, according to center staff. Children who attend the Children’s Center may include children with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, hearing, vision, cognitive, significant medical needs and sensory integration issue.
From one child served in 1970 to more than 350 children served today, the Children’s Center provides educational and therapeutic services to children on a year-round basis to enable them to reach their fullest potential, preparing them for kindergarten. Here is one story of a child that began in 1994:
Josh was born with Down syndrome. He began attending Sandhills Children’s Center at the Moore County campus located in Southern Pines at eighteen months of age.
“I remember the day we put Josh on the van to go to school. Our whole family just prayed that he would make it there OK and that his first day would be good,” says Jeanine Wall, Josh’s grandmother and current board director for Sandhills Children’s Center. “We knew we had to do this for Josh in order for him to be able to be ready for school.”
Josh received speech, physical and occupational therapies during his time at the center. Before attending the Children’s Center, he was unable to walk.
““All the services that were offered to Josh provided him with a solid foundation to begin school at the kindergarten level,” said Wall.
As of June 8, 2012, Josh became a graduate of Richmond Senior High School in Rockingham. Throughout his high school career, Josh had many achievements and one of his greatest is that he was able to help all children accept those who have special needs, according to his family.
“Throughout his school career other children have been able to relate to him — making his educational experience successful,” says Tammy Schrenker, Josh’s mother.
Josh excelled outside of the classroom as well, including his participation in the Special Olympics.
“He competed in local, regional and statewide competitions for bocce, equestrian and athletics. He was the winner of gold, silver and bronze medals,” said his grandmother. “Josh is devoted to volunteerism at the East Rockingham Senior Center, the Rankin Museum and the St. Andrews Ride Like a Knight Therapeutic horseback riding program. Josh also served on the planning board of Special Olympics.”
Josh Dazey is proof that providing early intervention services to children in their preschool years is critical in the outcome of their future. The inclusive child development program encourages curiosity, creativity and potential for growth. The unique philosophy of peer to peer learning in a setting of children with and without disabilities is the most natural environment for all children to thrive and succeed, said center staff.
“Sandhills Children’s Center is a great benefit in this county,” Schrenker said.
To find out how to support the efforts of the center through the annual “Summer Shindig,” held at Liberty Place in Rockingham on Friday, June 22, call 910-692-3323. The “Summer Shindig” is a dance party to raise awareness about children with special and developmental needs. The event will feature the sounds of The Sand Band and appetizers by FATZ restaurant for the individual ticket price of $25 and sponsorship packages that begin at $100.