This November Kennebunk Savings joined other local community members to celebrate the opening of the new Autism Therapy Wing at Waban in Sanford. Over the course of five years and with the completion of a $2 million capital campaign, Waban was able to meet its goal of opening the new 7,000 square foot wing.
Bradford C. Paige, President and CEO of Kennebunk Savings commented, “Kennebunk Savings appreciates and understands the importance of the services that the Fraser-Ford Child Development Center provides for children with autism. We know that our customers and neighbors benefit and find the results from Waban’s early intervention efforts to be life changing. We are honored to play a role in this project.”
The new Center expands services for Pre-K to Grade Two students with autism. Four new classrooms are set up and furnished, and several students have already enrolled and started classes in the new wing. The school’s main entrance has been moved and offices and therapy spaces have been added in addition to a new multi-purpose room and a gymnasium-like space with a built-in climbing structure and special cushioned flooring.
With the incidence of childhood autism growing rapidly throughout the United States, there is a need for additional programming and therapy to serve these children. In the past 12 years, the prevalence of autism has increased 289.5% with 1 in 68 children diagnosed in the U.S. In Maine, an astonishing twenty-nine percent of children under five have a learning, behavioral, physical, developmental, or other disability.
With more and more kindergartners struggling with basic social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive skills, early intervention programs such as those at the Fraser-Ford Child Development Center are crucial. The Center provides special purpose therapeutic preschool programs in an inclusive and professionally-staffed environment.
Waban was started 49 years ago as Camp Waban, where people with special needs could experience the joys of summer camp. Today, the organization offers a variety of programs for children and adults, including the Fraser-Ford Child Development Center in Sanford.
From L to R: Waban Executive Director, Neal Meltzer, guides the hand of lifelong donor, Courtney Straffin, to cut the ribbon opening the new Autism Therapy Wing at the Fraser-Ford Child Development Center in Sanford. Beside them are Jan Fraser and Charlene Ford Ralston for whom the building is named, and major donors Brad Paige of Kennebunk Savings and Blaine Boudreau of SIS Bank.