School serves kids with special needs

AWARE Inc.’s Center for Excellence is a school for children with complex behavioral and emotional needs, especially autism. Located in Anaconda, Mont., the school provides educational services for children 6-18 years old.

AWARE Inc.'s Center for Excellence is located in Anaconda, Mont., and serves children 6-18 years with complex behavioral and emotional needs.

AWARE Inc.’s Center for Excellence is located in Anaconda, Mont., and serves children 6-18 years with complex behavioral and emotional needs.

This specialized school is part of AWARE Inc.’s services, which offers intensive support for children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism.

It gives Montana kids the opportunity to stay in Montana, decreasing lost connections with their natural families and community supports.

“The school allows us to become a national center of high quality care for Montana children,” AWARE CEO Larry Noonan said. “The Center for Excellence grows out of our long history creating successful programming for children with complex needs. The project incorporates 38 years of organizational expertise and critical lessons learned in serving both adults and children with disabilities.”

The school’s quality environment complements AWARE’s effective, innovative best practices and research-based support services. It is an especially welcoming environment full of natural light and soothing, calming colors, creating an attractive school setting.

Students, teachers and staff have access to innovative technology to bolster educational and other needs, including Smart Boards, iPads and laptops with access to state of the art learning software.

Students have their own lockers, cafeteria, indoor basketball and play area, and other regular school features.

The school is furnished with tastefully designed, attractive and sturdy desks and other furniture.

The landscaped grounds include a picnic shelter, gardens and a variety of areas to help kids be physically active and healthy. The activity areas include basketball courts and other sports courts, swing sets, a tetherball play area and a full-size activity field.

The Center for Excellence complex was completed fall 2013 and serves up to 40 children. The children live in AWARE’s seven Anaconda community therapeutic group homes that were built in 2011.

The school and group homes offer more than 100 jobs to the Anaconda community.

This complex is the first phase of the project.

“From our core mission perspective, AWARE wants to meet the needs of this growing population of children with severe disabilities who are often served out of state,” Noonan said. “We have worked hard to develop the expertise needed to serve these children here in Montana.”

To learn more about the Center for Excellence, or to donate to the project, please call Development Director Richard Saravalli at 406.449.3120, or send an e-mail to: rsaravalli@aware-inc.org.

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