Story by: Dakota Sherek on February 9, 2024
Norton Children’s Autism Center , affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, now has an outdoor playground especially designed to help kids with autism overcome anxieties and sensitivities . It was made possible by donations to the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation.
“This playground provides so much. The obvious thing is play, which for many of our children is therapy in itself,” said M. Cody Davis, Ph.D. , pediatric psychologist with Norton Children’s Autism Center . “It helps us teach children the skills that are required for play — to be able to plan play, to look and make decisions about what they’re going to do.”Designed to mix recreation and therapy, the playground features a number of sensory items that allow kids to explore touch, sound and sight . The space also will allow an opportunity for social skills groups.
“They come into a beautiful environment and don’t even know they’re doing something therapeutic. Then, our team can observe and determine how we can make things better and how we can serve children with autism better throughout the years,” said Kimberly A. Boland, M.D., FAAP, chief of staff at Norton Children’s Hospital, Billy F. Andrews, M.D., endowed chair in pediatrics and chair of pediatrics at UofL School of Medicine.
The Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation provided $350,000 for the project, which was possible through generous donations from the Clark Family Foundation Inc.; Bourbon & Bowties ™ 2023 in honor of James Logan Vaughn; Mary Longest Butler Foundation; and Miracle Playgrounds of Kentucky & Tennessee. “They always say that when you’re raising a child it takes a village, and I think that’s absolutely true when we think about this project,” said Lynnie Meyer, R.N., Ed.D., FAHP, CFRE, senior vice president and chief development officer, Norton Healthcare. “It truly is a village that has come to life and will help us keep doing such great work. Just imagine what more can be done to help children when people step up and help projects like this.” The playground is part of the Norton Children’s Autism Center, which opened in October 2022 and was made possible in part by $1.3 million from the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation. This funding supported construction, a simulation apartment, gym equipment and programs. A private donation through the foundation also funded a specially trained Heel, Dog, Heal facility dog named Echo to provide comfort for patients with autism s pectrum d isorder and their families.The 3,000-square-foot Norton Children’s Autism Center provides multidisciplinary, family-centered care for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder . It is located in Hikes Point.
The not-for-profit Norton Children’s facilities rely on your generosity to provide for the physical and emotional health of children, from birth to adulthood. You can support Norton Children’s and projects like the autism playground by donating to the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation. People also can help through volunteering and other means.