Orlando, FL (WiredPRNews.com) UCP of Central Florida, a tuition-free public Orlando charter school, is now registering children with and without special needs, ages six weeks to 21.
According to executives at UCP of Central Florida, infant, toddler, preschool, kindergarten and elementary programs for students with and without special needs are available. In addition, UCP has openings in the middle, high school and college programs for students with special needs.
Registration for the 2011-2012 school year is open at all seven Central Florida campus locations including: Downtown Orlando/Holloway Campus, Downtown Orlando/Transitional Learning Academy Campus, East Orlando/Bailes Campus, Kissimmee/Osceola Campus, Lake Mary/Seminole Campus, Pine Hills Campus, and the Winter Garden/West Orange Campus.
Marni Stahlman, UCP’s Senior Director of Operations, said UCP’s education programs are unique and offer excellent academics to help children of all abilities learn, grow and excel. “Each of our classrooms is led by highly-qualified and experienced teachers who welcome children and families into a community of learning,” said Stahlman. “The education team takes learning to a new level allowing all children opportunities to explore and develop new skills and abilities that will carry them successfully into the future.”
Reaching more than 2400 children and their families annually through school and therapy programs, UCP of Central Florida is a nonprofit organization who has been helping families who have children with special needs for more than 55 years. Over the last decade, UCP has opened its classrooms to children with and without disabilities, following a unique and highly effective educational model called inclusion.
“With inclusive education, we are breaking down barriers, and encouraging children of all ages to embrace differences,” said Dr. Ilene Wilkins, UCP’s President and CEO. “It’s an essential component of a well-rounded education, and we are proud to have children of all abilities in our Central Florida classrooms.”
Research shows that inclusive classrooms provide an enriched learning environment. In fact, in a study by Staub and Peck, five outcomes of inclusion for non-disabled children were revealed: 1) reduced fear of human differences accompanied by increased awareness; 2) growth in social cognition; 3) improvements in self-concept; 4) development of personal principles; and 5) warm and caring friendships.
Rose Mary Lumm is a parent of three UCP students. Her youngest son Andrew has Spina Bifida, and he was enrolled at UCP at age 4. Today, at age 7, Andrew is thriving in UCP’s classrooms at the East Orlando/Bailes Campus. He is enrolled with his twin sister Katelyn and older brother Ryan, who were both born without a disability.
Lumm says each of her children is reaching their full potential at UCP. “Children learn from their peers,” said Lumm. “An inclusive classroom allows Andrew the opportunity to learn with students of varied abilities under the direction of talented, loving teachers. Within six months at UCP, Andrew’s writing skills blossomed and his verbal language increased. We’ve seen miracles at UCP.”
According to Lumm, Katelyn and Ryan have similar experiences and successes. “Each of our children is part of a school community where teachers meet them at their developmental level through creative teaching methods,” said Lumm.
Wilkins said that as a tuition-free public charter school, UCP offers eligible students in Pre-k through college free tuition for the school year. UCP programs may also be free for other eligible students through variety of funding sources including 4C, Early Steps, VPK and others.
In addition to school programs, UCP’s Orlando therapy programs are helping children and families realize potential they never thought possible. Through individualized physical, speech and occupational therapy for children birth to age 21, families have a place where hope begins and miracles happen, according to Wilkins.
Nicole Encarnacion is a UCP graduate who was given such an opportunity. Encarnacion has cerebral palsy and received therapy from UCP starting at age 12. When she began therapy, she was using a walker and crutches. When she finished, she was able to stand using a quad cane.
Eleven years later, Nicole is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree. She volunteers at UCP, giving back to the place that helped her achieve so much. She is one of countless success stories at UCP.
Therapy is available for students during their regularly scheduled school day at UCP or on an outpatient basis. Most insurances, Medicaid, and private pay are accepted.
Interested parents in school or therapy programs at UCP of Central Florida can visit www.ucpcfl.org or call (407) 852-3300.
ABOUT UCP OF CENTRAL FLORIDA: UCP is a tuition-free, public charter school with seven locations in Central Florida and a 501 (c) (3) non-profit agency. Last year alone, more than 2,400 children and their families received services provided by UCP of Central Florida. Although independently owned and operated, UCP of Central Florida is an affiliate of the national United Cerebral Palsy Associates (UCPA) and is responsible for a four county service area, including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Lake Counties. For more information about enrollment, call (407) 852-3300 or visit www.ucpcfl.org