A day and afterschool care program that specifically caters to children with special needs is planned to open in Gaston County in June 2019.
Known as Ignited Minds Childcare, the nonprofit would be the county’s first such program specifically serving children with intellectual and physical disabilities, as well as children without such challenges. The day care would serve children with special needs only, and the afterschool program would be inclusive of all children.
Alan Routhier, a longtime advocate for children with special needs, is heading up the nonprofit initiative, which has already received approval by the state. He is president of Camp Sertoma in Dallas, a summer camp for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, and serves as a board member with Special Needs Community Initiative, an organization which builds local housing for high-functioning kids with disabilities.
“Nothing like this really exists around here in Gaston County,” said Routhier. “We need to solve that problem, because that’s the biggest challenge right now for kids with special needs is that they’re not offered the exact same things that a normal person is in life. And we shouldn’t really look at it like that. We should offer them the exact same things in life but just adapt to their abilities.”
A location for the program has not yet been determined, though Routhier says he’s considering several locations.