Friends of TLC Donates $17k

Thank you, once again, to the wonderful board members of the TLC for Friends Foundation who recently donated a generous $17,000 to TLC’s new Caterpillar Clubhouse Early Childhood Development Center, located at our St. George hub (2044 S. Mesa Palms Drive.)  The Friends of TLC organization has been instrumental in funding TLC’s success over the years including the purchase of our St. George building. Their support of our new Caterpillar Clubhouse addresses a growing need for high-quality child care and learning opportunities for our youngest, most vulnerable children in our community. We are forever grateful for their hard work, dedication and commitment to our mission of promoting the success of children, one family at a time.  (Pictured left to right:  Laura Keefe with the Friends of TLC and Suzanne Leonelli, TLC’s CEO)

IRONMAN Foundation Donates $2,500

You may have heard about the St. George IRONMAN 70.3 that was in town last May 2016, and you probably already know what a positive economic impact this race has on our community.  But did you know that they also have a foundation that donates time and money to various charities in every community they race in? We are so excited that The Learning Center for Families was one of those lucky recipients and received a check for $2,500 last May. The grant will help us reach out to more pregnant women in Washington County, Utah through our Parents As Teachers program which teaches families about healthy prenatal and early care behaviors.  The IRONMAN Foundation’s purpose is to leave a positive lasting impact in each of the race communities where race events are held. Since it’s inception, the IRONMAN Foundation has provided over $46 million in grants, donations and program support to many deserving global, national, regional and local organizations.

TLC Receives $6,000 from AGC of Utah

The Learning Center for Families (TLC) received a generous donation of $6,000 on November 30th from the Associated General Contractors of Utah.   The donation will help TLC open an additional location in the Washington City area next year to assist more families whose young children struggle with developmental delays or conditions, poverty or less than optimal home environments.  “We are thrilled to be the recipient of such a generous gift which will really help us meet our growing needs in the Washington City area,” said TLC Executive Director Suzanne Leonelli.  “This donation will allow us to offer more Kindermusik classes, hold playgroups closer to where our families live and create additional work space for our growing staff.”  

Suzanne receiving check (Medium)

Rich Thorn talking with Suzanne (Medium)

The Associated General Contractors of Utah is the largest and only statewide commercial construction trade association and provides services and representation to nearly 500 of Utah’s small to large construction firms.  Their Community Give Back program’s goal is to improve the communities where its members live.  Southern Utah has been the recipient of several generous gifts from the AGC, most recently in 2014 with a gift to The Doctor’s Clinic of St. George and in 2015 to the Washington County Children’s Justice Center for the completion of their Children’s Peace Garden.

Main picture, left to right:  Washington City Council member Troy Belliston, Washington City Manager Roger Carter, Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson, Washington City Chamber President Dan Drown, AGC of Utah Pres/CEO Rich Thorn, TLC Executive Director Suzanne Leonelli, AGC Southern Utah District Manager Bryan Rodgers, Watts Construction CEO Doug Watts and children and staff from TLC’s on-site daycare.

VIEW THE SPECTRUM ARTICLE HERE published on page A2 on 12/1/15

Even Stevens Selects TLC As Nonprofit Partner

TLC is thrilled and grateful to be selected as one of Even Steven’s nonprofit partners. Even Stevens Sandwiches is a Salt Lake native craft-casual restaurant serving sandwiches, salads, bites under $5, breakfast, and locally-sourced items (craft beer, specialty coffee, and bakery sweets) unique to each store’s location.

Even Stevens sandwich (Medium)Even Stevens menu board (Medium)

By offering fresh updates on nostalgic recipes, the “anti-cookie cutter” brand nods to tradition while celebrating creativity. The concept, founded in June 2014, was awarded Best New Concept by the Utah Restaurant Association in May 2015. Beyond serving customers, Even Stevens is ‘sandwich shop with a cause.’

Even Stevens Indoor Sign (Medium)
Even Stevens mural (Medium)

For every sandwich sold, they donate a sandwich to a local non-profit partner. Since opening their first restaurant, the brand has donated over 170,000 sandwiches to the Salt Lake community. Their St. George partners include the Dove Center, Switchpoint, The Learning Center for Families and the Utah Food Bank’s Southern Utah distribution.
Even Stevens ribbon cutting (Medium)
Even Stevens outdoor sign (Medium)

TLC director retires; honored for 22 years of service

The upper floor of The Learning Center for Families overflowed Monday with people who were there to honor the work of Executive Director Debbie Justice.

TLC, which Justice founded in 1993, has helped thousands of families with young children and has grown to employ close to seventy people – with consultants spanning throughout the Arizona Strip and Washington County areas.

The Learning Center for Families, Sept. 28, 2015 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News

The nonprofit organization focuses on early childhood development, ranging from free screenings to therapy and learning programs to mental health services. The services TLC offers are based on eligibility and are provided free to qualified families.

Rep. V. Lowry Snow attended the open house to show his support for Justice and to pay tribute to all the good she has done within the community. “I truly give her credit for getting what we see around us here, and all the programs that are offered here,” Snow said. “… So I’m here to honor her.”

Justice has had a hand in helping over 13,000 families since the founding of the center 22 years ago. She is revered by the center’s staff and by families upon which she has made meaningful and life-changing impact.

Justice said her time at the center has been full-steam ahead. “I ran up to the finish line and I’m breaking through the tape, and that feels great,” Justice said.

Suzanne Leonelli, who will take Justice’s place as the new executive director, expressed gratitude for being able to carry on Justice’s mission, saying that Justice has been an inspiration to her. “She built this on a dream she had 22 years ago … ,” Leonelli said. “I just feel fortunate that I was selected to carry on her legacy and move TLC to the next level.”


Young men’s group donates ‘sensory pathway’ for kids

ST. GEORGE — The Learning Center for Families has a new sensory pathway to help children with sensory processing disorders. The 26-foot pathway was built by an LDS young men’s group and delivered to the center, Wednesday.

Child enjoys the sensory pathway created by a young men's group for The Learning Center for Families, St. George, Utah, Sept. 23, 2015 | Photo courtesy of The Learning Center for Families, St. George News

The young men’s group from the Enterprise 2nd Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began work on the project in June after their leader, Aaron Prisbrey, learned it was needed for TLC’s Kindermusik program.

The group of 14 boys, ages 12-18, donated the supplies and built the 26-foot sensory pathway out of a series of 16 wood squares. The squares have various coverings that will allow young children to experience walking on different textures and feel a wide range of tactile surfaces with the bottom of their feet.

“Because many children with sensory processing disorders have an adverse reaction to different surface textures,” Kindermusik instructor Tara Dunn said, “the pathway will provide a unique gross motor experience that will help children regulate and become less tactile defensive.”

The boys used several different types of carpet, cut up pool noodles, rubberized drawer liners, softballs cut in half, artificial turf and foam-filled flannel to provide several common and uncommon walking experiences.

Young men group place together the sensory path for The Learning Center for Families, St. George, Utah, Sept. 23, 2015 | Photo courtesy of The Learning Center for Families, St. George News

The pathway can be customized to a child’s needs by removing certain tiles. Staff members will also be able to customize two of the tiles that were left blank as different needs arise.

The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation describes SPD as a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. According to the foundation’s website, the condition causes a sort of neurological traffic jam that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly.

“A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks,” the SPD Foundation states. “Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.”

The Learning Center for Families, or TLC, is an organization dedicated to promoting the success of children one family at a time. Whether it’s a developmental delay or disability, poor health, poverty or a less than optimal home environment, there are certain difficulties that put infants and toddlers at risk of failing to achieve their full potential.

Since 1993, TLC has been providing the extra help families need to navigate these challenges and ensure that every child in its community has the skills they need to excel in school and in life.

Families with young children who have sensory processing disorders are served by the organization in a variety of ways; these include Kindermusik classes, regular home visits by occupational therapists and learning consultants who provide families with strategies, resources and support to help them meet the sensory needs of their children.

Since most of these families don’t have access to therapy equipment on a regular basis, TLC uses the family’s natural environment to show parents and caregivers how they can meet the child’s sensory needs throughout their daily routines. TLC uses everyday items such as pillows, blankets, playground equipment, diaper boxes and other everyday objects and toys to coach parents on how to implement helpful strategies.

TLC staff will also visit day cares, parks and even grocery stores with the family as necessary to create a plan to help them deal with situations that have become difficult due to their child’s SPD. TLC also provides regular classes on SPD and encourages networking between families to give them a sense of community with families in similar situations.