AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For the last 50 years, children from birth to 6-years-old living with a disability have been able to attend the Children's Center.
The center has locations in Augusta, Gardiner, Farmington and Skowhegan. Every room, no matter the location, is filled with patience because the children walking in come with their own background of special needs. Some physical, some on the autism spectrum and others are considered typically developing. Whatever a child is facing, the Children's Center is a place that takes pride in embracing everyone according to executive director Jeffrey Johnson.
"It's our job to help them figure out ways to not just move around, because many of them have physical disabilities, but maybe most importantly help them figure out how to communicate their thoughts and their feelings to the world around them," said Johnson.
Lesson plans for kids living with disabilities have come a long way in the last 50 years and so has the Children's Center. When it opened in 1967 as the Mid-State United Cerebral Palsy Center, faculty had no ideas the benefits of putting typically developing kids in their classes. Nancy Merrick made the decision to enroll her daughter Kathy when she was 9-years-old. The center gave the now 51-year-old the foundation to go on and volunteer in her Augusta community.
"They do such good things here, they really do," said Merrick. "It's amazing."
There are around 100 children enrolled at The Children's Center. It hopes that each one will go on to do great things after leaving the program.
"We know that with the right things being done early on in life, those kids can progress much further in many cases than anyone ever thought possible," said Johnson.
The center's next fundraising event will be a Chili Chowder Challenge at the Augusta Armory on March 24th.