LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For two months, Ilan Powell, 5, has been meeting with Rusty Henle once per week, to work on developmental delays.
“I’m trying to bring his alertness up through the types of activities he’s doing,” said Henle, an occupational therapist at KIDS Center for Pediatric Therapies in Louisville.
The two grab a pair of plastic whistles and whistle on their way outside to grab a wheelbarrow and shovels.
They dig in the dirt in a therapeutic garden.
“We are having the experience of feeling, touching, smelling, so we’re having a sensory experience with the dirt,” said Henle.
The Louisville nonprofit serves more than 1,000 children per year with physical, occupational and speech-language therapy, said Brittany Lutke, executive director.
“We don’t ever turn a child away that it’s in need of care, and that’s regardless of their insurance provider or their family’s ability to afford the full cost of care,” she said.
Like many nonprofits, the center has seen revenue decrease during the pandemic.
Rep. Brandon Reed, R-Hodgenville, who was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy, went to the center every week in his early childhood.
“Tremendous place and just basically taught me how to walk and taught me how to talk,” he told Spectrum News 1.
When he learned the pandemic had affected the center’s revenue, he said he got involved as vice chair of the House appropriations and revenue committee. The recently passed budget includes a onetime allocation of $250,000, according to Reed.
“They put into me all my life,” said Reed. “It’s just a humbling experience to be able to give back to them.”
Lutke said the allocation will help the center to continue services.
“With the pandemic, we have had a dip in revenue based on decreased of our services, whether it’s illnesses or exposures and then also lack of some of our fundraising events,” said Lutke.
The therapists work with children with a range of special needs.
“You can see kids become happier human beings by gaining the things that they’re gaining while they’re here,” said Henle.
The center’s mission, said Lutke, is to help children live their best life by maximizing their abilities.