04/04/2014 12:23 PM
BATON ROUGE – The Emerge Center for Communication, Behavior and Development was officially completed at the LSU Innovation Park and opened following a ribbon-cutting ceremony today.
The Emerge Center, located at 7784 Innovation Park Dr. in Baton Rouge, offers integrated services for children and adults facing communications challenges. Its therapy model combines a number of interventions under one roof, including speech therapy, a unique therapeutic language preschool, occupational therapy, psychological/behavioral services and an integrated autism program for young children, as well as audiology services for all ages. The center’s coordinated approach to care makes it the only center of its kind in the Gulf South Region.
“The new Emerge Center is a dream realized for so many in this community,” said Melissa Juneau, executive director of the center. “From the donors who have helped through their generosity, to our dedicated staff and to the children and their families, none of this would be possible without the efforts of so many. With the opening of our new center, we will not only be able to better serve the growing number of children who need our assistance, but also establish this center as a leader in the region.”
The Emerge Center is triple the size of the former Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation, or BRSHF, on West Roosevelt Street. The center includes ten group language therapy classrooms, each with separate parent observation spaces – a kindergarten-level classroom; 11 rooms for Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA; one-on-one therapy for children with autism; an indoor sensory/occupational therapy gym; and two audiology testing booths with two hearing consultation rooms plus space for hearing aid repair.
The demand for The Emerge Center’s services is on the rise. Seven percent of kindergarten children start school with a language delay, which directly relates to literacy; one in 68 children, including one in 42 boys, is diagnosed with autism; and 14 percent of children exhibit a developmental disability. In its previous location, the nonprofit had an average waiting list of 70 children for therapeutic services. In 2013 alone, 584 children received more than 22,000 hours of therapy in the therapeutic language preschool at BRSHF. In addition, 48 children with autism received more than 10,000 hours of ABA therapy and 427 children received speech/language evaluations.
The Emerge Center greatly increases access for children and families who are in urgent need of care. The center will serve up to 100 children in its integrated autism program per year; serve up to 300 children in the therapeutic language center per week; and increase occupational therapy from one to five days a week, treating up to 60 clients per week.
The $8 million facility is the result of a capital campaign launched in 2011. Key donors include The Albemarle Foundation; CB&I; The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation; The Reilly Family Foundation; Bert and Sue Turner; and The Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation. In addition, the center secured new markets tax credits through the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority for the project.
“The Albemarle Foundation is proud to support the new Emerge Center, a state-of-the-art training and research center for communication, behavior and development,” said Sandra Holub, director of the Albemarle Foundation. “The Emerge Center is a testament to the strength of community collaboration. We welcome the many contributions that the Center and its staff will bring to the residents in need of its services in South Louisiana.”
The 26,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility is located on 3.1 acres of land on Innovation Park Drive, on the campus of LSU Innovation Park. Coleman Partners Architects designed the new building and Faulk & Meek General Contractors constructed it. A total of 320 hours of construction time and $15,000 worth of materials were donated to The Emerge Center.
The partnership between The Emerge Center and LSU Innovation Park provides faculty and students with a broader avenue for intellectual enrichment and technological discovery by partnering scientific investigation and business enterprise under one umbrella.
“LSU is excited about the opening of The Emerge Center at the LSU Innovation Park as our first new building,” LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander said. “Through this public-private partnership, LSU students will have wonderful internship opportunities while also working toward better treatments for autism and other speech and hearing disorders.”
About The Emerge Center
The Baton Rouge Speech & Hearing Foundation was founded in 1960 by the Junior League and Quota International of Baton Rouge to serve the needs of deaf and hearing-impaired children. Since it opened, BRSHF grew to meet the community’s need for additional services including early intervention treatment for children with autism, group speech therapy in a year-round, preschool setting, occupational therapy as well as behavioral therapy for children. In 2013, BRHSF served clients from 28 parishes and six counties from Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas.
In April 2014, BRSHF officially changes its name to The Emerge Center, to better reflect the organization’s growth, its expansion of services and its wide geographical reach. The Emerge Center is a nonprofit organization that strives to be a community resource, accessible to all. For more information, visit http://www.emergela.org/.
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Posted on Friday, April 4, 2014