The beneficiary of the single, largest capital campaign in the 70-year history of Aspire of WNY, the renovated Center For Learning (CFL) is open to the delight of staff, students, and administrators. While the CFL project is nearly completed, as with any major construction project, unforeseen costs arose throughout, including weather delays and asbestos remediation. These challenges have driven the capital costs from the original $1.8 million to $2 million. Michael Holley, Aspire VP of Development is confident that the remaining capital can be raised through the extraordinary generosity of WNY philanthropists.
Despite the project challenges, the CFL opened for the fall school session to rave reviews from everyone involved. “I’ve been at the CFL for 28 years,” stated Cathleen Voyer, Aspire VP of Educational Services. “And it is really exciting to have this newly renovated building that meets all of the physical and educational needs of our students. Both our staff and their students are in an environment that has the latest technologies and is designed from the ground up to support their success.”
There are countless highlights to the renovated facility, starting with entrances that are 100% accessible for students of all abilities and a covered pick up and drop off area to protect mobility-restricted students from the elements. The building itself received upgraded electrical service and new heating and cooling systems allowing for better environmental controls for students with medical/ respiratory issues.
There are 16 new classrooms that were designed specifically for children with disabilities. This upgrade is critically important in allowing teachers and staff to have the space for wheelchairs and adaptive equipment. The entire CFL campus features enhanced wireless connectivity, meaning students have greater access to their adaptive technology devices, and each classroom contains a SMART board allowing teachers to tailor lessons to their students varying abilities and needs.
The CFL now includes designated therapy rooms that were collaboratively designed by the therapy staff and the contractors to ensure that the space accommodates the wide array of student needs. To promote wellness and physical development, the CFL includes a walking track and a specialized fitness room containing body-weight support devices, treadmills, gait trainers and more. These enhancements allow for the expansion of the Aspire Wellness Program, committed to helping students achieve their physical capabilities and enable them to participate more fully in school, home, and community activities.
A dedicated space was also designed to support the Occupational Therapy activities at the CFL. The space includes permanent workstations that are set up to allow students to work on fine motor skills, hand strengthening, and visual motor skills training. The room includes a sensory area and ceiling tracks to allow for the safe positioning of students on therapeutic equipment. A special splinting room was created to allow the therapist to create a variety of casts, and splints for their students to promote the maintenance and improvement of range of motion.
Another exciting addition to the newly renovated CFL is the multi-function cafetorium, a cafeteria that also serves as an auditorium. This adaptive space will provide a spacious area for preschool, day care, and school age students to socialize and interact with peers during meal times. CFL students will be able to facilitate friendships and work on developing socialization skills. In addition, the raised stage provides a larger space for planned school activities and student performances.
Aspire President and CEO, Thomas Sy, recently spoke about the impact that the CFL project has on the present and future of Aspire of WNY.
“This project results in an opportunity to elevate our enrollment capacity, giving both school districts and parents more options for placement of their children in need of specialized education services. Now, that we are near completion, we have truly stabilized the long-term future of the CFL by gaining control over our own dedicated space and removing any ongoing lease uncertainties. The CFL is an educational jewel that will provide life-long benefits to the students we serve.”
Learn more about the developmental disabilities school at Aspire.