University of Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, AL – Knowledge can never be taken away from someone. It is a priceless attribute to one’s character that reflects in every conversation and task. It is a powerful and compelling trait that derives from gaining information.

This process of gaining information begins at a young age. Learning to write your name, combining letters to make words, being read stories, and understanding differences in shapes and colors are some of the teachings of early childhood education. Most importantly, what is taught in the classroom sparks an interest in learning at a young age.

That interest can be heightened by a strong bond with a teacher and friendships within the classroom. All of these experiences are why it is essential for every child to have the same opportunity to be properly enriched in early childhood education. The RISE Center at the University of Alabama’s College of Human Environmental Studies teaches and offers therapy services for children with and without disabilities from ages eight weeks to five years old. Its tagline, “Where special kids shine” depicts what the program aims to do: help infants and preschoolers succeed and continue expanding their knowledge.

“The RISE model is a unique blend of early childhood education, child development, early childhood special education, and integrated therapy,” according to its website. “The purpose of the program is to optimally prepare children for their next educational environment, and to provide support to families.” RISE strives to help children prosper in a school setting in the future by offering speech and language therapy, physical therapy, music therapy and occupational therapy in an all-encompassing classroom environment.

The RISE Center has six classrooms separated by age each with 16 students, a teacher and assistants. There is also a team of nurses for medical assistance. Once children reach their full potential in RISE, they graduate and are ready for further education, with elementary school as the natural next step in academic progression.

UA’s RISE Center annual graduation ceremony recently took place July 27. Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act that went into effect in 1990, preventing discrimination against people with disabilities in all settings, every child has the opportunity to be educated. Children with disabilities have the right to learn and receive information just as children without disabilities do. The RISE Center, due to its particular approach to prepare children for their future, makes this possible and succeeds in doing so.

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