Tulsa Mom Helps Preschool Develop Program For Special Needs Children

Wednesday, July 28th 2010, 5:38 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- For parents of children with special needs finding a good school can be a challenge. There are not enough of them, so one parent decided to do something about that.

Ginny Gamble, 2, has a rare genetic disorder that makes it hard for her to walk, hear and see.

On top of the health challenges, her mother realized there's a severe shortage of day care and preschool that will accept and help children with these kinds of needs.

"I was just looking all over town for appropriate child care for my daughter with special needs and I just wasn't finding it." Melissa Gamble said.

Tulsa's largest special needs school, The Little Light House, only has room for 64 students and has a three-year waiting list.

They have expansion plans, but still won't be big enough to meet the demand. So Melissa Gamble approached the New Haven Day School and came up with a plan for them to add slots for special needs children.

"We would love have this be a model for other churches to pick up and say yes we'll do this because there is a huge need," she said.

The existing New Haven School is a regular preschool program that will expand with only one more classroom for children with disabilities.

They've added a special education teacher and assistant to the staff. It's not enough to meet the demand, but will have a slot for Ginny, who is number 118 on the waiting list at the Little Light House.

Learn more about the special needs program at New Haven School

"In this classroom, she'll get interaction with kids who have similar situations to hers, but also get some peer modeling from typically developing children, which is great for a special needs child, they can learn so much from each other," Gamble said.

One reason the little light house has a long waiting list is that it's free. The New Haven School - and most others - are not.