Focus on Education
11:22 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Heritage Centers improves school for students with extraordinary needs

The John R. Oishei Foundation received a very special 'thank you' Thursday.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says students with developmental disabilities at the Heritage Centers' Maryvale School in Cheekotwaga showed their appreciation for a Challenge Grant from Oishei that will provide a new comfort in their classrooms.

Oishei president Robert Gioia with Heritage student thanking Oishei Foundation for grant.
Oishei president Robert Gioia with Heritage student thanking Oishei Foundation for grant.
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

Heritage students, many in wheelchairs, lined a large room inside the Maryvale building to celebrate the grant. 

Oishei awarded the school with $650,000 grant for a massive window renovation project.  But this isn't an ordinary construction upgrade the windows will actually help severely disabled students breath easier while they attend classes in an aging building  --  it is where these students learn -- play and receive therapy.

New windows in the Heritage Centers' Maryvale School in Cheekotwaga will help students with special needs.
New windows in the Heritage Centers' Maryvale School in Cheekotwaga will help students with special needs.
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

"You ask why windows and climate controls.  Well you have no idea what it means to our kids," said  Michael Gross,  executive director of Heritage Centers.  

Oishei Foundation assisting to help the adapt the school for students who have extraordinary needs.

"This winter we've experienced days of bone chilling that will take your breathe away -- cold and last summer's days of high heat and humidity can take their toll on children who have difficulty maintaining eternal body temperature, staying warm in the cold and staying cool in the warmth," said Gross.

Heritage students.
Heritage students.
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

Heritage Centers was formed 60-years-ago for children with a broad spectrum of special needs.  Thursday -- two of Heritage students -- one in a wheel chair -- help deliver a special thank you directly to Oishei president Robert Gioia.  Gioia -- in turn -- praised the center for it's work

"The true heroes today are the staff and support teams that take care of these young children and provide them with the   for life," said Gioia.

For countless families -- Heritage Centers provides vital support for learning and therapy.

Stephanie Collier's 3-year-old son Austin suffers from Cerebral Palsy.  He attends the Heritage Center in Tonawanda.

"Heritage Centers became a lifeline for our family.  They have just opened so many doors for us," said Collier.             

Heritage Centers was able to match the Oishei gift and construction for the new windows is already underway at the school.