Abi’s Place is the culmination of a dream that began in 1999 with the birth of Abigail Zimmerman. It was to be a time of new beginnings and unbridled joy. You know, the perfect birth. However, Abigail was born with global developmental delays and seizures. When she was eight months old, the doctor told her parents she would never possess logical reasoning or thinking abilities. She would never learn or progress. In fact, she would remain, cognitively, at her current age.
For the next few years, Abigail received her family’s love and support as well as intense therapy in an effort to help her lead the best life possible. When she was three she was enrolled in the public school system and placed in a “developmentally-appropriate setting”. Her parents envisioned her in a stimulating environment surrounded by teachers and therapists as well as other children who had special needs like Abigail. Unfortunately, at that time, the school system did not encompass her parents’ visions and standards. Throughout their process, they began to speak to other parents who expressed the same desires. Perhaps a mainstreaming option in the public school system wasn’t for every child. Unfortunately, special schools didn’t exist nor did they grow on trees. Even if they did, the cost was certainly an obstacle to overcome for most parents, but the tree had to be planted.
The love for their daughter, and the passion for creating an environment that wouldn’t just maintain but rather nurture children like Abigail grew into Abi’s Place. Throughout the years, seeing and using various research evidence-based techniques and immersing children in a program that addresses their medical, physical, and behavioral requirements blossomed.
Making Abi’s Place accessible to all children who need it is an on-going challenge. The tuition only covers part of each child’s education and care. The balance is provided through the generosity of donors or scholarships. The true dream is to make this specialized, enriched organization affordable for all.
Abi’s Place offers a sensory rich learning environment surrounding children with devoted teachers and assistants, at a ratio never greater than two to one. Our teachers, including special education and behavioral trained, work with the children in center-based classrooms; providing individualized and group opportunities ensuring the development of each child’s short and long-term goals. Parents are not only welcome in the classroom, but encouraged to collaborate with staff, ensuring consistency. This environment has been carefully created with the express goal of fulfilling our mission to help each child grow, facilitate their abilities to communicate and contribute to society in their own way.
This dream that started with the birth of Abigail has now evolved into something bigger. It is no longer about one child but about many. Our organization, Abi’s Place will touch many lives, and it won’t be just about one little girl’s bright future, but about that of many others in our community.
Abi’s Place strives to continue improvement year after year. Since inception, we have increased the amount of children served and continued to educate professionals with new innovative practices. We have added therapists to our staff and incorporated four curriculums to specialize in each child’s needs. Today, we continue our efforts to keep costs down to families through fundraising, scholarships, and grants.