An area organization plans to put a financial gift to work in helping to improve the lives of its charges.
On Wednesday, Aug. 13, the Heinzerling Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers care and educational services for individuals with developmental disabilities, accepted a donation of $18,921 from the Aladdin Shriners Hospital Association for Children. The foundation is located just north of Grove City at 1800 Heinzerling Drive.
Brian Asbury, director of development and public relations for the Heinzerling Foundation, said the Shriners have been supporting the foundation for three years.
"They've been very generous to us," he said.
Asbury said the donation will be used for three projects: the development of sensory space, the purchase of therapeutic learning toys and adding toward the purchase of a minibus.
The minibus will include a wheelchair accessible ramp and will improve the foundation's ability to take its residents out into the community for trips, Asbury said. Many of the foundation's vans, he added, are more than 15 years old, and the cost of a minibus can run between $65,000 and $70,000.
"It's something we really needed," Asbury said. "We'll be getting that this year."
The sensory space, which Asbury said is ready to be installed any time now, is designed to stimulate learning. Asbury said it's like a playground with more panels and features different lighting, surface textures, shapes and colors for users to see, hear and touch. There are parts to grab on to, strings, spinners and tunnels that residents can drop balls into and and see them roll.
"It improves their muscle development," Asbury said. "It also helps reduce stress and tension."
It also features special lighting, including ultraviolet light that comes on when the room light goes off.
"It helps the visual attention because (the residents) focus on the lights," Asbury said. "Fifty-four percent of the children at Heinzerling are visually impaired."
The therapeutic learning toys are specially made.
"You can't get these at Toys R Us," Asbury said. "They can take drops on the ground on the ground and still work. ... This is stuff (the residents have) never had before."
The toys, like the sensory space, are meant to stimulate the senses of their user and serve as occupational therapy, which Asbury said helps the residents build confidence in their capabilities.
The check presentation also included a tour of the facility by the Shriners.
"It's eye-opening," said Dennis Feyh, the Aladdin Shriners' treasurer. "It makes you want to do more for these children. ... All these children are so special. (The foundation does) so much, and the people who work there are saints."