DALLAS – A DFW non-profit is raising money to buy a bus for special needs children.
It’s a Sensory World! is a center for children with disabilities. It’s been open ten years and the unique program has grown tremendously. Now the group is hoping the community will help support them.
Inside It’s a Sensory World! parents and their children find a unique kind of therapy. There is a gym featuring a rock climbing wall, swings and slides to help the children develop critical skills.
John Foley has been bringing his son Hudson for ten years.
“We’ve tried everything with him and he’s made good progress. Hes made the most progress here at It's A Sensory World,” said Foley.
Doctors diagnosed Hudson as autistic at 15 months. He’s now 14.
“We’ve probably gone to 50 different therapists over the years, many different things, speech, language, occupational, sensory, listening, music therapy, we’ve tried everything. We’ve even gone to a faith healer,” Foley said.
Angela Stephens and Rekha Suryanarayana co-founded the program. They both have children with special needs.
“Talking to parents for years, almost all of them would say ‘I feel like I’m on an island,'” Stephens said.
The need was there and the center has grown from a gym to now also a school.
“In 2011 we only had three kids in our preschool program and now we have 35 kids total,” Stephens explained.
A critical part of the program is taking the kids on functional field trips like to the grocery store or out to eat.
“A lot of our families don’t go to restaurants, they don’t go to the movies, they don’t go on family vacations. Even sitting in the car for more than a thirty minute period is too much,” Stephens said. “So going on the field trips improves their quality of life for the family, not just the child.”
Right now, with so many students, it’s a challenge to leave ISW. The center does not have transportation, forcing teachers to use their personal vehicles.
“We do it because our kids need to practice. They need to be in the community and practice the skills they learn here in a safe environment with people who can guide them through,” said ISW Director of Development Priya Patel.
Now they're hoping to raise money for a bus to take the kids out this summer.
“He’s going to be in the community at some point in his life,” Foley added. “To incrementally experience that and get used to it and know proper behavior and what not, is absolutely a critical life skill.”
The non-profit needs $20,000 to buy the bus. To donate visit gofundme.com/iswbus