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Preschool mainstreaming contest winners, 1992.

Bright Beginnings Port Clinton, Ohio

Bright Beginnings Early Childhood Center, a private day-care center, has quietly and without fanfare, accepted children with disabilities, included them in everyday activities and promoted understanding and acceptance. All this is done without testing and parent questionnaires, IEPs, federal mandates, supplemental funding, extra staff, supplications and endless meetings that hallmark "special education." The program allows children with and without disabilities to interact with their peers within their own community.

The staff at Bright Beginnings uses a positive approach to teaching and helping all the children, including accommodating those with disabilities. The positive atmosphere at the school encourages acceptance of the children with disabilities. The staff also demonstrates a willingness to work with parents, often asking, "What needs to be done?" or "How can we help?" to accomplish a goal for a child.

"Over the years, the other children at Bright Beginnings have been generally accepting of Sarah," wrote Catherine and James Zafirau. "They'll greet her when she comes in, serve as her 'buddy' during the day, talk to her, help her out and, at times, tolerate her inappropriate behaviors."

Contact: Teresa Fillmore, Administrator, Bright Beginnings Early Childhood Center, 331 Buckeye Blvd., Port Clinton, Ohio 43452, (419) 734-1302.

Feres special Children Services

POINTE CLAIRE, QUEBEC

Feres Special Children Services is a year-round, integrated therapeutic preschool offering highly individualized, intensive stimulation. There are 16 children presently in the program, eight of whom have disabilities. The children range in age from six months to six years. A kindergarten has just been established where 16 more children will attend, including eight with disabilities.

All children are accepted to the program regardless of their different abilities. This unique and integrated program has proven to have considerable advantages for the children already within the program. Feres teachers have specialized training in the field of education both for preschool and primary grades. in addition, there is a group of trained volunteers that works with the teachers to maintain a low adult-to-child ratio (one adult to two children). Therefore, the service provides a more individualized effective program, enabling adults to attend to each and every chlld's needs.

The program is designed to facilitate movement. By providing positive avenues for movement, the child is happier overall and better able to learn. The children are also self-motivated to explore the various learning centers by utilizing the specialized equipment and materials (i.e. trapeze, hammock, barrel, trampoline, swinging tire, air mattress, scooter board, tactile and fine motor materials).

Contact: Pamela Feres, Director, Feres Special Children's Services, 7 Ste-Anne Street, Pointe Claire, PQ H9S 4P6, (514) 696-3821.

ST. LUKE'S COMMUNITY PRESCHOOL

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

St. Luke's Community Preschool (SLCP) has been providing services for children with special needs since 1977. it serves approximately 140 preschool children, 12 of whom have various types and degrees of disabilities. These 12 children receive a preschool experience which consists of both mainstreaming and special education. They attend SLCP five days a week; some days in a "regular"' preschool classroom and other days in a special methods classroom. The special methods classroom provides them with skills to help them have positive and successful experiences in their mainstream class. Helping preschoolers learn about and accept disabilities is an important component of the SLCP program. All the children participate in many fun activities that help them gain more knowledge about disabilities.

Parents of the preschoolers with special needs receive additional services including conferences, daily written communication, assistance in future school placements, family get-togethers and sibling day.

"A combined program of special education and mainstreaming is a total program that provides the best of both worlds," said one parent. "The special methods class facilitates growth in weak areas and prepares the children for the mainstream. The mainstream provides good peer models to imitate, a normal preschool routine and prepares the children for the real world."

Contact: Bobbi Main, Director, St. Luke's Community Preschool, 100 West 86th Street, Indianapolis, Ind. 46260, (317) 844-3399.

UCP/FIRST CARE CHILD CENTER

SPRINGFIELD, PENNSYLVANIA

The preschool program operated by United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware County, Penn., is adjacent to the First Care Center of Springfield -- a preschool and day-care center for children without disabilities. Located down the hall from one another, the "special needs" youngsters are mainstreamed into the First Care classrooms as often as possible. Conversely, students from the First Care program filter into the UCP preschool classrooms on a regular basis.

The "special needs" children are exposed to a normalized classroom setting and regular education students, while the First Care children learn to appreciate and accept youngsters who are "different." Each child's self-worth and sensitivity toward others is immeasurably enhanced through this integrated programming. Recently, the UCP preschool director altered the IEPs of all the children with disabilities in her care. Each child, no matter how severe the disability, is to be mainstreamed into the First Care program on a regular basis.

"To me as both a parent and a professional (child psychologist), Jordan is getting the best preschool experience possible," wrote Dr. Jerry Lazaroff. "His needs for early intervention and special education are met by a staff whose dedication and warmth are endless. Jordan then transitions into a room where children and staff alike strive to make him feel accepted, loved and as capable as any other classmate. What more could a 'special needs' parent wish for?"

Contact: Vicky Lewis, Director, UCP Preschool/First Care Child Center of Springfield, 933 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, PA 19064, (215) 328-4448.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:award-winning educational programs for handicapped preschoolers
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Oct 1, 1992
Words:909
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