(SAVANNAH) A school in Savannah is celebrating a milestone by launching an award to recognize childhood philanthropy. The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism is presenting this inaugural honor at an awards banquet. It’s called “A Salute To Savannah’s Superheroes”. The MRCA is a small school making a big difference in the lives of it’s students. Inside the classrooms, the students receive lessons in several therapies including speech, physical. Music, and occupational. Patti Victor, president and CEO, says success for these students requires more daily effort than most of us can fathom, because the common denominator with autistic children is diminished communication skills and development. “Sometimes, they’re diagnosed frequently at the ages of 18 months to 24 months..again, because of speech delay, is when it becomes suspicious, but another period of frequent diagnosis is adolescence.” said Victor.
The MRCA takes an evidence-based approach to teaching it’s students. Victor says these practices best equip autistic children, from grade school through graduation, with the tools they need for successful lives. She says that why the award they are giving is named after Matthew Reardon’s grandmother, Marie Backus McGaughey, the fiscal force behind the start of the center. Victor says McGaughey never sought or even seeks accolades for her achievements in giving, not just to MRCA, but to several charities that benefit children. “So we’re establishing an award to honor Mrs. McGaughey, but also to honor other Savannahians who have a heart and put an effort behind childhood philanthropy.” Victor said.
McGaughey’s giving got the MRCA off the ground and fifteen years later, the year-round school continues to offer the type of learning environment best suited for autistic learners. The student-to-teacher ratio 2-to-1. Victor says it takes that kind of teacher-attention because autistic children do not seem to pay at much attention to human interactions. “Their attention is not drawn to faces and to people, the way a typical person is. They’re drawn to other things.” said Victor.
MRCA depends of the gifts of supporters to continue their traditions in providing quality, practical education and advocacy for the austism community in Savannah and the surrounding areas. Victor says the financial support of fellow citizens will enable the school to continue to meet the escalating demands of the region’s autism community. ” ” Because when we intervene for children in the early years, it changes their lives forever.” Victor said.
The “Salute To Savannah’s Superhearoes Awards Banquet” will begin 6 p.m., Thursday, October 22, inside the Oglethorpe Ballroom at the Hilton DeSoto. The inaugural recipient of the Marie Backus McGaughey Award for Childhood Philanthropy is Greg Parker, President and CEO of The Parker Companies.