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Children’s Center in Winston-Salem brings special needs, typical needs kids together

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — At the Children’s Center in Winston-Salem, the stories of triumph are endless.

“We have children that come to us when they`re 4 to 6 weeks old,” said Meredith Flow, Executive Director for Centers for Exceptional Children. “With our program, maybe they`re not walking until they turn age 2 or 3, but they`re walking.”

The Children’s Center is one of two school locations under The Centers for Exceptional Children that serves both children with special needs and those with typical needs. Early childhood developmental experts know an inclusive environment is beneficial to everyone. For children with developmental delays, their peers serve as built-in motivators in their classroom while typically developing children learn a skill that’s hard to teach in other settings.

“As a society, we want our children to empathize and understand people who have diverse backgrounds and children are able to do that at a very early age here,” Flow said.

The Infant and Toddler Program provides care and developmental support to children ages birth to 36 months in a five-star licensed facility.

“The school system in North Carolina is not able to serve children with special needs until they turn age 3,” Flow said. “And those critical, concentrated early interventions such as occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy, we have all on site here in the infant toddler program.”

And thanks to a $30,467 grant from the Winston-Salem Foundation, class sizes stay small. The money pays for two part-time staff members known as “floaters” who can move between classes as needed.

It’s that individualized attention, paired with early invention that ensures all children reach their fullest potential.

“I think it`s inspirational to everyone to come tour and see what our children here, the challenges that they have to face each day,” Flow said. “If you`re having a bad day, and you see that, you`re instantly inspired.”

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