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Fundraiser to aid unique preschool program
by Everett Catts
March 24, 2014 12:38 PM | 5524 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Springtime in the City co-chairs Katie Williams and Danielle Wirtz and parents Todd and Caroline Southerland with their son Andrew, 2, will attend the event Friday.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Springtime in the City co-chairs Katie Williams and Danielle Wirtz and parents Todd and Caroline Southerland with their son Andrew, 2, will attend the event Friday.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / The Adaptive Learning Center and the Peachtree Presbyterian Preschool will co-host its Springtime in the City fundraiser Friday. Front row from left, co-chair Katie Williams and Caroline Southerland with her son Andrew, 2. Back row from left, co-chair Danielle Wirtz and Andrew’s dad, Todd Southerland, in the preschool’s art center.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / The Adaptive Learning Center and the Peachtree Presbyterian Preschool will co-host its Springtime in the City fundraiser Friday. Front row from left, co-chair Katie Williams and Caroline Southerland with her son Andrew, 2. Back row from left, co-chair Danielle Wirtz and Andrew’s dad, Todd Southerland, in the preschool’s art center.
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Todd and Caroline Southerland’s son Andrew was born with cerebral palsy and cortical visual impairment.

So when the Brookhaven couple looked at preschools for Andrew, they decided to enroll him this fall at Peachtree Presbyterian preschool in Buckhead, which partners with the Marietta-based Adaptive Learning Center in a program to pair disabled children with able-bodied kids in classes.

“It’s been awesome for him,” his mother said. “He’s really gained a lot since he’s been there this year. He’s been very happy being able to participate in the classroom with his peers. He loves it. He loves his teachers. He’s able to the things a typical 2½-year-old is able to do.”

“His facilitator works with all of his therapists. … They work with her on his therapy goals. I’ve seen a lot of progress, mainly with communication and social skills, that type of thing in the classroom.”

Friday, the two nonprofits are hosting Springtime in the City, their third annual fundraiser. It will take place at The Foundry at Puritan Mill and will include heavy hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, live and silent auctions and music by the Bradley Cole Smith Band.

Organizers said they hope to raise $60,000 at the event, which brought in $50,000 last year.

The center, which treats children from birth to age 6, started in 1982 at Temple Sinai in Sandy Springs and eventually became an inclusion program for the Marcus Jewish Community Centers of Atlanta preschools. It was launched at Peachtree Presbyterian in 2002.

The center has 45 children enrolled and 18 at Peachtree. It also has students at 12 other metro Atlanta preschools including Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Buckhead and Sandy Springs United Methodist Church.

Katie Williams of Buckhead and Danielle Wirtz of Vinings, who are co-chairing this year’s fundraiser, each have healthy children who attend or attended the preschool. Williams’ son Trey, 6, went to the school and now goes to Sarah Smith Elementary in Buckhead, and her daughter Josie, 4, attends the school.

“We have a very good friend who has a child who was in the ALC,” she said. “I feel like [Trey] is a better child for not only knowing that family and being in their class. I think the most important thing about the ALC is patience, empathy and love.

“Whether you’re a typical child or a non-typical child, it gives them the ability to know this is the real world. When they go beyond PPP, it should not be a division but a marriage of the two.”

Wirtz’s son Jack, 6, attended the preschool and now goes to Christ the King School in Buckhead, and her daughter Stella, 4, attends the preschool.

“I think for me with the ALC, I just really appreciate at such a young age it teaches children of all types [the virtues of] tolerance and diversity,” their mother said. “In order to have a successful learning environment, it’s imperative children know tolerance. I think PPP, in partnering with the ALC, is somewhat ahead of the curve. I don’t know of a lot of preschools that allow people to experience that at such a young age.”

Wirtz said Friday’s fundraiser is a fun way to show people the impact the center and the preschool can have.

“I think the event is unique because the majority of the parents that attend [it] are Peachtree Presbyterian preschool people, not necessarily parents with [disabled] children in the school but have been touched by the center in one way or another,” she said. “I think the people who attend in general, even if they don’t have a child at the school, they’ve had a glimpse at some point in how life-changing the ALC can be for children.

“Eighty-eight percent of children who attend the ALC go on to a mainstream school. The Peachtree Presbyterian community as a whole is very supportive of the Adaptive Learning Center and it’s unique in that way,” she said.

If you go:

o What: Springtime in the City

o Benefits: Adaptive Learning Center and Peachtree Presbyterian Preschool

o When: Friday from 7 to 11 p.m.

o Where: The Foundry at Puritan Mill, 916 Joseph E Lowery Blvd., northwest Atlanta

o Tickets: $95

o Information: www.springtimeinthecity.webs.com
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