This summer, Integrated Therapy Services launched an 8-week summer program for children with special needs as well as their siblings. There ended up being 36 children from 5 counties (Jasper, Richland, Clay, Effingham, Crawford) in participation. It also created jobs for 30 staff members from 3 counties. Many local businesses were utilized for various program needs. As you can see, this impacted the lives of many as well as the local economy.

The program was such a success, that we wanted to offer it year-round. However, our program needed a home. We rented the old Arndt’s building on the square, quickly painted and updated the space and moved in within a few weeks, thanks to help from staff and parents. What used to be a Hallmark store filled with card racks, shelves and furnishings, is now a learning space equipped with an indoor sensory gym and classrooms. Still, the front storefront mimics what was once housed in the 100 year old Arndt’s store...

The Day Program:

There are currently 13 children enrolled in the day program. Some are being homeschooled with LIFE acting as a support. Some are going to LIFE part time and school part time. Some are not required to enroll in school due to their age, and use this as their preschool program. Many families are are expressing an interest in touring and enrolling in our budding program.

The day program allows children to learn in a hands-on, language-rich manner, which is customized to their needs. Therapeutic interventions are provided to achieve progress in goals that are based on functional needs. Life skills training is also provided as we want to prepare these children for adulthood. Older students are able to practice vocational skills in the cafe. The day program runs on a schedule comparable to the Unit 1 school district.

The Cafe:

LIFE Cafe is housed in the front of the building offering more economic opportunity to the community as well as vocational training to the older students of our program. It will serve local coffee and baked goods among other faire, and will sell items from local artists and vendors. All proceeds from the cafe will go toward the operating expenses of the program. The cafe will be run by volunteers, who will work for tips. They will be trained according to business standards.

The cafe will also act as a venue for learning and gathering. The goal is to create a place in the community for people to grow together. When not in use for the day program, the large group area will be available to rent for meetings, classes and birthday parties. After school hour will also be offered to give kids a safe space to do homework and have a healthy after school snack.

The Fall day program began Monday, Sept 10. The cafe/boutique will open Monday Oct 1, with a grand opening Oct 6. The venue will be available for large groups and after school hour later this fall. Tours of the day program for prospective students will be available later this fall as well.

The Funding:

The program has been funded primarily by Integrated Therapy Services and some private donations. Parents who send their children to the day program are investing funds based on a fee schedule that is similar to the tuition of a private school. However, there are many other operational expenses that are not covered by these investments. This is why we are seeking other avenues of financial support.

LIFE is now a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, charitable organization. Our goal is to raise funds via donations and grants to cover operational expenses and provide tuition waivers to families in need. A fundraising effort is being made in order to assist with our current needs as we get the program off the ground and apply for grants.

Costs involved in running LIFE/Limitless:

●  Rent/Utilities

●  Staff Wages

●  Meals

●  Materials

●  Transport for Field Trips (*bus)

*A handicap accessible bus, which was won by sealed bid auction, is being purchased from Unit 1 School District by LIFE program for $6,000 to take the children on group outings, which is important for their development and learning.

Charitable contributions, which are tax deductible, may be mailed to Limitless Institute for Functional Education at PO Box 13, Newton, IL 62448. For more information, please feel free to contact us at info@lifecafenewton.com .