Larry's Family Discovers He Can "Speak"

W Allen Bell on May 10, 2012

“As time goes by, we often ask ourselves how and what we are doing in this world.”  This is the first line of a poem written by Larry Hood, an adult participant at the Frazer Center.  No one knew Larry could communicate until he was exposed to adaptive computerLarry Hood's collection of poetry: Larry Hood's collection of poetry: "The Time Is Now" technology for people with disabilities. Obviously, Larry had some very deep thoughts and is now able to share his talents with the world.

Like Larry, Atlanta has a hidden strength you can discover:

Set amongst old-growth hardwood trees in a forest just inside the eastern city limits of Atlanta, across Ponce de Leon Ave from Fernbank Museum, neighbors in the Lake Claire and Druid Hills enclaves are keepers of a substantial secret. Thirty-nine acres of varying micro-climates, a renowned Georgia garden and a long-existing effort to lovingly, honorably and creatively bolster citizens who the majority of us just can’t understand.

If you are under 40 years old, it is hard to believe that many of Atlanta’s more dynamic non-profit organizations got their starts in the basements of downtown churches. Like the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency, and Communities in Schools, Frazer Center was started in the basement of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in 1949 by the Lane and Frazer families out of the desire to support the Lane’s child with cerebral palsy. Then, in 1951, they purchased the land that had formerly been the estate of Cator Woolford and is now home of the Frazer Center early childhood and adult programs and the Cator Woolford Gardens. The Frazer Center serves children and adults all through the developmental disability spectrum, including autism.

Dr. Trace Haythorn, became Executive Director of the Frazer Center in 2010. Trace served as a Presbyterian pastor, college professor, and led an educational foundation prior to coming to Frazer Center. At our May 2012 CityLights, this good-natured leader and father explained how over twelve years ago he had just completed his PhD in serving the developmentally disabled when he and his wife learned their own newborn daughter, Martha, had Down syndrome. Trace’s hard-earned educational achievement gave him a profound knowledge of what professional leaders think and believe in this field, while his personal journey as a father and family member with a special needs loved one, has informed his own leadership of the staff, clients, programs and facilities at Frazer Center.

The child development program is for babies aged six weeks up to children in two lottery-funded pre-K classrooms, and includes after-school and summer programs for school-aged children. Being an inclusion program, only one-third of the children have special needs and two-thirds are typically developing children. 65 staff serving 192 children, provides a deeply enriching atmosphere for all. Their commitment to creating a sense of long-term community results in children being truly understood and progressing in basic social skills while learning alongside peers.

The Frazer Center adult program, where Larry Hood’s “voice” appeared, is addressing a great need in Atlanta for helping adults with developmental difficulties craft a meaningful life after high school. For example, the adults in the day program have launched several successful micro-enterprises, such as Frazer Grounds Coffee Shop in the mornings and Frazer Bling which produces handmade jewelry and handbags.

The Frazer Center’s work is also supported in part by the beautiful Cator Woolford Gardens. Situated within Frazer Centers 39 acres, Drive through these gates to discover a forest, a garden and a place of quiet, substantial significanceDrive through these gates to discover a forest, a garden and a place of quiet, substantial significanceThe Cator Woolford Gardens can be rented for weddings and corporate events. All proceeds from garden rentals are used to maintain the gardens, which are open year round to the public, and to support the programs of the Frazer Center.

If you know a child or adult who may benefit from the Frazer Center, would like to help, or would like to inquire about scheduling an event in the gardens, please go to www.thefrazercenter.org.

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