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Mayor of Independence and the Sunshine Center School

Written by  July 31, 2004

Mark your calendars for a great fall benefit ride on Saturday, September 25 for the Sunshine Center School. Led by the mayor of Independence, Ron Stewart, this is the third year for this 90 mile ride which begins at 9 a.m. on Main Street in the Independence Square. Breakfast will be provided by the Merchants Association starting at 7:30 a.m.

Sunshine Center School is a not for profit organization whose goal is to prepare children to enter the school system prepared for learning and ready to tackle the educational challenges that will help them fulfill their lives. They primarily serve children age birth through five with developmental delays/disabilities, fragile medical conditions and physical disabilities. Here, developing children learn alongside their peers who are challenged with autism, spina bifida, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, speech impairments and other disabilities.

Sunshine offers about 20 comprehensive programs in early intervention special education, speech, physical and occupational therapy, early childhood education and affordable childcare. In fact, the childcare program has grown rapidly as more families have two working parents or a single parent. The school is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to provide childcare to children with and without developmental disabilities.

A full service food and nutrition program is also offered to all students, along with a transportation program, extracurricular activities, a family lending library and a program of family activities that extend beyond their doors and into the community.

They are a private school, sanctioned and approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Sunshine is accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and is licensed by the Missouri Department of Health for childcare.

The agency was founded in 1975 as one of the schools in the United States to provide educational and therapeutic programs to children with special needs and their families. Today, Sunshine Center School continues its tradition of educating children with developmental disabilities. Over 250 children, age birth through 21, receive services through the home- and center-based programs each year. Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP) and Individualized Education Plans (IEP) are developed for each student after evaluation and assessment. Families are encouraged to attend and participate in special education and therapy sessions. Programs and services continue to expand and adapt to meet the changing needs of Kansas City.

Funding for Sunshine Center children is secured in part by government contracts; however this does not cover all educational and therapy costs. They rely on the generosity, support and commitment from a variety of funding resources. Every donation goes directly to supporting programs and services that benefit the children. Your gift could be the key to expanding a Sunshine program to a child in need. All contributions are tax-deductible.

Gifts of all types are welcomed including: Grocery store gift certificates, discount store gift certificates (i.e. Target, Wal-Mart), and used toys, books, and clothing. Check out their wish list for items you can donate.

If you would like to get more involved, classroom and special event volunteer opportunities are available. Volunteers can assist teachers by reading to the children, hosting circle time activities during outside playground time, at snack and lunch times. They can also assist children with computer time, coordinate a classroom visit to our on-site family lending library, organize a musical arts activity or plan an art center craft. Classroom volunteers are welcome Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age. For more information on how you can volunteer at Sunshine Center, please contact Chris Rounds, Associate Director at (816) 833-2088.

The ride ends at the Sunshine Center so you can see first hand who you are helping. There will be a picnic lunch along with prizes and a program. Ride and make a difference in the life of a child!

Margaret Liggett