WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Two-year-old James is on the move. A lot of the steps he’s taking these days are because of the special attention he gets at The Centers for Exceptional Children in Winston-Salem.
The toddler has a kidney disorder and needs a tube to stay hydrated. His mother, Thomasina Fanning, is excited he is becoming more confident in his abilities.
“Just seeing where he came from, being hospital-bound to never being in a daycare center, not really being anywhere but home. To walking, talking, smiling, laughing, just being himself — it really meant a lot to us,” Fanning said. “It makes me feel good, it makes me feel proud to say he’s special needs because he’s still regular. I don’t look at him no different.”
The nonprofit believes early intervention and education will help children like James reach their full potential. Teachers like Patrice Bennett make sure James stays safe. She is also in charge of providing day-to-day stimulation and enrichment. “We do music with them, we read books, we spend time in the therapy garden, our multipurpose room, the motor lab, outdoor and indoor play, singing, playing. Just getting them- helping them develop.”
A team of speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and other specialists are also part of the Infant and Toddler program. They work with teachers and parents to give students the support they need.
Pediatric physical therapist Jessica Lambeth uses equipment to help children like James develop motor skills. She works with children from birth to 36 months. “We can all collaborate and coordinate with them to see what is he doing at home, what is he doing at the center, what are we recommending therapeutically that has worked, that hasn’t worked or we need to try something different.”
The Centers for Exceptional Children also welcomes typically developing children. Lambeth says the inclusive environment benefits everyone.
“It not only benefits those children with different abilities to see other children, but it really benefits children with typical abilities too. To grow compassion, and love and care for people who aren’t like them.”
The Winston-Salem Foundation helped the nonprofit develop a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Plan to ensure as many children as possible have access to this specialized care.
There are volunteer opportunities available at the Centers for Exceptional Children. It is also always looking for supporters through donations. You can find more information at their website.