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Annual Fundraising Campaign

  • The Annual Fundraising Campaign (AFC) raises money to continue to provide exceptional services for the hundreds of children The Center helps in our community. The Center, and the kids we serve, depend on your donation.

    Check out the stories below about The Center, our students, and a few of our major advocates. They show the significant impact your donation will have, now and in the future.
  • Avery's Story

    We were so lost

    Casey and Harvey noticed their 2-year-old daughter, Avery, wouldn’t look at them when they called her name and was constantly spinning in circles. Avery was very shut off and had difficulty communicating. She wanted to tell her parents what she wanted and needed, but she just wasn’t able to. They knew they needed guidance, but they weren’t sure where to turn. When Harvey called Help Me Grow, they connected the family with The Childhood League Center. Before Avery was even diagnosed with autism, one of The Center’s certified PLAY Project consultants began working with her and her family. PLAY Project is an intensive, evidence-based early intervention autism treatment program that consultants show families how to implement at home. Casey says, “That’s when Avery really started to blossom.”

    When Avery started Preschool at The Center, the classroom environment was overwhelming for her at first. Avery’s teacher was Ms. Tiffany. “Our team had to find a way to reach Avery and get her to trust us.” After months of the staff working with her every day, Avery started allowing them to comfort and hold her when she was upset. It was the first of many breakthroughs. Slowly but surely, Avery started to come out of her shell. Casey says Avery spent years trapped inside herself, and The Center brought out who she really is.

  • Avery’s next teacher, Ms. Kristina, says The Center’s inclusive classrooms were a key. In the Preschool, children with developmental delays and typically developing children learn side by side. “There’s something special about kids learning from kids. They get another level of comfort.” Avery would watch her peers play and explore, and when she felt ready she would do the same. She started joining group circle with her peers, and even initiated play with others, which were huge milestones.

    Avery graduated from The Center in the spring, ready for the next steps in her education. Casey says her whole family misses The Center already. “Her going to The Childhood League Center and being around other kids brought out the best in her. She was able to engage with us and we were able to engage with her. I wish every place was like The Childhood League Center.”

    From before she was diagnosed with autism all the way through her graduation, Avery and her family had expert help from The Center’s compassionate staff. Every year, hundreds of children and families depend on The Center’s services and expertise, which are only possible because of you. Your gift today means families like Avery’s, who feel lost in the face of unknown challenges, will be able to turn to The Center to guide their way.

  • The New School Year is Here

    This is always a special time at The Childhood League Center. We are so excited to have our halls and classrooms once again filled with the sounds of laughter, learning and discovery. This year is particularly special because for many kids, this will be their first year at The Center. We can’t wait to help change the trajectory of their lives.

    Thanks to people like you, The Center has continued to help our children not only succeed, but thrive throughout the pandemic. Now we’re facing a new challenge.

    You may have heard about the nationwide teacher shortage, which is affecting schools at all learning levels. While the impact is being felt everywhere, this shortage has been especially hard on schools that specialize in early childhood education and those that employ certified Special Education teachers. We are not immune to these challenges, as we continue to look for teachers to fully staff our Preschool program. Thanks to the ingenuity and creativity of our staff, our children are receiving the same premium level of education that has been a hallmark of The Center since 1945.

  • In our classrooms, children with developmental delays learn side by side with their typically developing peers. This inclusion model benefits everyone involved. Each of our classrooms has its own lead teacher who is additionally certified in Special Education. Two teacher assistants work alongside the lead teacher, creating an ideal student to teacher ratio. While Special Education teachers in many other schools move between multiple classrooms each day, our model allows our students’ unique needs to be met at all times while making sure they each get the individualized attention they need to thrive.

    Our teachers are the lifeblood of our classrooms, and the secret to our children’s success.

    It costs approximately $20,000 to educate each individual child in our Preschool every year, and the funding we receive from the government only covers about half of that.

  • Make An Impact & Donate Today

    Your gift today helps guarantee our children’s success this year, enabling The Center to continue to attract and support the very best early childhood educators in the industry.

  • Ari's Story

    With the COVID-19 pandemic raging in 2020, Joel and Erin had serious concerns about sending their son Ari to preschool, but they kept hearing positive things about The Childhood League Center. Worried about the dangers of COVID-19 and Ari’s allergies to everything from nuts to cold weather, they contacted The Center. They were excited about what they learned.

    “Everything they were doing was for the health and well-being of the children. The safest environment for him was hands down The Childhood League Center.”

    When the pandemic started last year, Center staff came up with a plan to create the safest place to meet the needs of each individual child so they could learn and thrive. Reduced class sizes, mask protocols for staff and students, and advanced cleaning practices were instituted. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve kept up with state and local health guidelines and adjusted our safety plans accordingly, allowing our kids to learn safely in person over the last year.

    Joel and Erin are delighted that Ari, now 5, is thriving in our face-to-face learning environment. They’ve seen him grow from a shy child to one who runs into The Center with excitement every morning. “Seeing that comfortability from him means the world to us.”

    He’s proud of his accomplishments in the classroom, where his parents say, “The level of education has been outstanding.” They feel he’s 100% prepared for kindergarten already. Joel and Erin believe The Center’s philosophy of inclusion, where typically developing children like Ari learn alongside children with developmental delays, has greatly benefited him.

    “I appreciate the diversity of The Childhood League Center’s student body. It’s a microcosm of what we want to see in the world,” says Joel.

    Ari recently told his parents “I love The Childhood League Center.”

    Kids learn best in person, and this school year, The Center has been able to increase the number of children learning in our Preschool. That means that the trajectory of more children’s lives, like Ari’s, are being changed. Your continuing support is critical to continue transforming even more challenging starts into unstoppable futures.

  • Make An Impact & Donate Today

  • Nate and Owen's Story

    Nate and Owen Odenthal arrived early, and their parents were worried. The twin boys were born three months premature and faced a long, difficult road ahead. Luckily their mother, Ashley, works at The Childhood League Center. Even as her two-pound boys were in the neonatal intensive care unit, she knew she could count on The Center to transform their challenging starts into unstoppable futures.

    You help to give that life-changing gift to hundreds of at-risk children every year.

  • Nate and Owen are living proof of the power of The Center. Our Early Intervention (EI) team started working with them in their home when they were 14 months old. Owen had been diagnosed with failure to thrive and had stopped gaining weight. The EI team used sensory-friendly methods to get him to eat. “The EI team is the reason Owen is eating today.”

    When they were old enough, Nate and Owen came to Preschool at The Childhood League Center, where our teachers and therapists did wonders for both boys. Owen, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, is now able to jump and to go up and down stairs unassisted. The boys learned to resolve their feelings when they would get upset. Owen overcame his aversions to certain foods, smells, and textures by using sensory-based play. Nate improved his motor skills. Now he can write his own name, which he loves to do. Speech therapy has allowed their communication to grow by leaps and bounds.

  • “I don’t even want to think where they’d be without The Center’s help.”

  • Nate and Owen graduated from The Childhood League Center in the spring, and they’re heading to kindergarten this year. The Odenthals know that, thanks to The Center, their boys are prepared for this next big step. Their mother is grateful. “The Center took care of us during the hardest time in our lives.”

  • At The Childhood League Center, Nate and Owen’s story is the rule, not the exception. Our staff works tirelessly to change the trajectory of children’s lives, no matter what challenges they face. You are directly responsible for helping our children reach their potential. Your gift today will have a measurable impact on children like Nate and Owen, setting them on the path to the future they deserve.

  • Make An Impact & Donate Today

    We’re asking you to walk with us on this journey so we can continue to help Franklin County’s vulnerable children, like Nate and Owen, by transforming their challenging starts into the unstoppable futures they deserve.

  • Audrey's Story

    Paula and Rich weren’t sure where to begin. Not even two years old, their daughter Audrey was showing signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder, including delayed communication and engagement, as well as sensory concerns. Once Audrey qualified for Early Intervention services and before her developmental evaluation, Paula and Rich chose The Childhood League Center as their provider.

    “I was very lost and I feel like without them I would probably still be floundering,” Paula says.

  • Ms. Julie, one of The Center’s Occupational Therapists, began working with the Stewarts in their home immediately. She prepared them for what to expect during Audrey’s Autism Spectrum Disorder evaluation and talked through their concerns and fears.

    When Audrey’s evaluation confirmed a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Ms. Julie and the Stewarts were ready to get to work.

    Ms. Julie showed the Stewarts how to engage with Audrey through sensory play, including movements such as flying her in the air and flipping her upside down.

    Ms. Julie also showed the Stewarts techniques to make Audrey feel more comfortable with things like getting dressed and eating a wider variety of foods, which had been nearly impossible tasks months earlier.

  • In less than a year working with The Center, Audrey made life-changing advances. Paula says the differences in her daughter are night and day, and she’s thankful for The Center. “I feel like I had a partner through all of this and I’m very grateful. She is just going to have a great life.”

    Early Intervention is a critical piece of The Center’s holistic approach. Our Early Intervention team’s family-centered techniques are designed to meet the needs of the child and the family. While those services are typically provided in the home, to ensure the safety of our children and staff during the pandemic we have pivoted to providing them virtually.

  • Every facet of what The Center does has been affected by the pandemic. We’ve adapted so we can help the same number of children with developmental delays and children experiencing poverty, but as we celebrate a historic milestone of 75 years serving children in need, we face a historic challenge because of the financial fallout from the pandemic. It’s a challenge you can help us meet. The Center must raise an additional $150,000 this year to meet the needs of our children, families and staff.

  • Audrey playing with water

  • Make An Impact & Donate Today

    We’re asking you to walk with us on this journey so we can continue to help Franklin County’s vulnerable children, like Audrey, by transforming their challenging starts into the unstoppable futures they deserve.

  • Learn About The Center's 75-year History & Impact

  • Learn about The Center’s incredible 75-year history.

  • Learn about The Center’s  impact in our community.

  • Making a Difference for Our Kids During COVID-19

    The start of the school year at The Childhood League Center has never looked like this. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted our children, their families and The Center. In our 75 years, we’ve gotten through many ups and downs thanks to the support of people like you. Your help will enable us to meet the difficulties created by the pandemic and continue to transform challenging starts into unstoppable futures.

    How The Center Has Adapted

    We worked all summer to prepare for the return of students to The Center with two goals in mind.

    First, to make sure The Center is as safe as possible for our children, their families, and our staff. That means the wearing of masks by staff and students plus social distancing whenever possible. Each class is considered a “family unit”. Areas that were once considered communal spaces are no longer communal. They are also thoroughly, and professionally, cleaned between uses.

    Second, we wanted to ensure the maximum number of children could have the most in-person hours at The Center because that’s how they learn best. The efforts to achieve those goals are a continuation of the incredible flexibility and ingenuity our staff has shown since March, when they adapted to teaching, delivering therapies, and performing evaluations via video conference to ensure the continued growth and success of our children. In September, our Preschool program welcomed students back into our building, but some of our programs, including Help Me Grow and Early Intervention, are still delivering their services and support remotely.

  • COVID-19’s Impact

    Many of our partners have made difficult decisions that have significantly affected our funding.

    We have also incurred increased expenses to ensure a safe reopening, including technology enhancements, additional cleaning supplies, and building improvements.

    Waiting out this difficult time is not an option for the children we serve. We know a child’s brain is nearly 90% developed by age five. Their social and emotional development hinges on our ability to provide high-quality early education and interventions during these crucial early years.

  • How You Can Make a Difference

    To continue changing the trajectory of the lives of our children, we need you to walk with us now and in the months to come. Your financial support will provide the critical resources The Center needs to deliver the services our children depend on. The strides they make in their time at The Center will pay dividends for the rest of their lives.

    Your gift is an investment in them, their futures, and our community. 

  • Meet Amanda!

    By age 5, a child’s brain is 90% developed. What they learn and experience during these early years is crucial to their development and their ability to succeed later in life. This is especially true for our kids at The Childhood League Center, where we’re able to transform challenging starts, like Amanda Frazier’s, into unstoppable futures.

  • At two years old, Amanda was struggling to speak. She babbled and used her own made up language, making it very difficult for her to communicate her wants and needs. When her parents, Jeanie and Chris, visited The Center, they immediately knew this is where they wanted Amanda to be. A spot opened up and they jumped at the chance. From that day on, the Fraziers were a part of The Center family.

    Ms. Marty, a speech-language therapist who still serves children at The Childhood League Center, was one of the many members of The Center family who worked closely with Amanda. After their sessions, she would give Amanda exercises to continue working on her skills at home. Amanda’s parents and her older sister, Cassie, would often help her with that homework.

  • Her language skills progressed, and the inclusive environment of The Center also helped her advance her social skills. Jeanie says that being surrounded by kids of all abilities helped Amanda feel like she belonged. By the time she graduated, Jeanie says Amanda was ready for kindergarten. “The confidence oozed from her. She was like ’yeah, I can do this!’”.

    Amanda says she remembers how welcoming the staff and students at The Childhood League Center were. She planted flowers in the garden with her new friends and learned to express her feelings through arts and crafts.

    Her experiences with the people and her therapies at The Center have had a lasting effect.

  • Amanda is now 21 years old, and she’s a tutor at an elementary school in Utah. She’s in college, studying early childhood education with aspirations of starting her own preschool. She wants to help children who have similar challenges to the ones she faced. “I want to see them succeed like I succeeded.”

    Amanda’s sister, Cassie, was inspired by helping Amanda with her speech homework. She’s studying to be a speech therapist. She’s on track to graduate with her degree in April.

    Family is central to everything The Center does. The staff is a family, selflessly working toward a single purpose: to change the trajectory of children’s lives. The parents and children we serve are family, working with each other and with the staff to provide the support the children need. By supporting The Center’s mission, you are family

  • Amanda’s success wouldn’t be possible without the continued support from people like you.
    Giving today will help children like Amanda now, and make a lasting impact on their lives.

  • Make An Impact & Donate Today

    Through regular giving, you allow us to plan for the future and develop even more ways to help children reach their absolute fullest potential.

    For this reason, your continued support is the greatest gift you can give. Thank you for your support!

  • "Beep Beep!" Meet Oscar!

    Oscar zooms a toy car around his classroom at The Childhood League Center, finishing another busy day with some play. Success looks different for every child at The Center. For Oscar, success is in the remarkable progress he’s made since his surprising diagnosis.

  • In 2017, Oscar’s family first noticed a delay in Oscar’s communication. They were referred to The Center. During their first visit, they loved what they saw. Oscar began receiving services in the home and his family signed him up to participate in the toddler classroom. His teacher, Ms. Darla, saw indicators in Oscar that led her to encourage his family take him for a developmental evaluation. That evaluation led to a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

    At The Center, Oscar’s team of teachers and therapists got to work. Ms. Courtney, a certified PLAY consultant, started visiting Oscar’s home to show his family the best ways to support and interact with him. In class at The Center, his teachers reinforced the skills he and his family continue to learn at home with Ms. Courtney.

  • Oscar was in Ms. Renee’s preschool class for almost two years. She says it was challenging at first to figure out the best ways to engage Oscar and get him involved in classroom activities, but consistent work paid off.

    One example came during circle time, where Oscar found an unconventional safe space. He chose to sit in a tipped over cardboard box, which was typically used as a photo backdrop.

    With time and some encouragement, he started to feel more comfortable during circle time, eventually leaving the box behind and sitting in a chair surrounded by his peers.

    It was one of many important social breakthroughs for Oscar, as he began to model his own behavior after his classmates.

  • Last year, he started getting in line with them at the appropriate times and he let his teachers help put his coat on, something he wouldn’t allow at first.

    Recently, he even put on a helmet and let Ms. Renee help him ride a bike, taking over pedaling on a downhill. “He has all these skills and he just decides when you get to see them.”

    Now, Oscar is in Ms. Diane’s preschool class at The Center. As a certified PLAY consultant, she’s helping Oscar continue to build on his progress.

  • Oscar’s mother, Charmaine, says “The Center has done amazing things for Oscar”. She says Oscar has made dramatic improvements in his speech, communication, and interactions with others.

    Oscar’s whole family, including his grandparents, learned ways to interact with him using PLAY Project methods.

  • Make An Impact & Donate Today

    Through regular giving, you allow us to plan for the future and develop even more ways to help children reach their absolute fullest potential.

    For this reason, your continued support is the greatest gift you can give. Thank you for your support!

  • Join Leonard and invest in high-quality early childhood education!
  • Donors are invited to join the Pathfinders Society

    Established in 2011, the Pathfinders Society recognizes donors who, through their generous annual contributions of $1,000 or more, share our vision of serving our community’s children with special needs.

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