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A new school for disabled children opens in Bothell

Twins Shreyan and Shrihan enjoy Kindering Bothell’s train room during the grand opening event. - Courtesy photo
Twins Shreyan and Shrihan enjoy Kindering Bothell’s train room during the grand opening event.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Founders, alumni, current students, family and friends came together April 24 to celebrate the grand opening of Kindering Bothell.

Over 50 years after he helped found Kindering, Morey Wetherald was there to do the official ribbon cutting on Kindering’s first expansion to a new location. Long before laws mandated that children with special needs receive an opportunity for education and therapy, parents who had a child with a disability were either encouraged to place their children in an institution or simply told not to expect much. In the 1960s, children with disabilities were not even allowed into schools before age seven because they were not considered educable. It was entirely up to parents to provide their children with social and educational opportunities. Fortunately, parents like Morey Wetherald began to change all of that.

Morey had a son named Denny who was diagnosed with “partial retardation” and did not speak or walk before age 4. At the time, Morey recalls, “we were told to take our child home and love him.” However, Morey and a group of five other determined parents of children with disabilities refused to accept the status quo. In 1963 the families formed a non-profit and won a grant to start a preschool, which eventually evolved into Kindering, a nationally-recognized early intervention center serving over 3,500 infants, children with special needs and their families each year.

Over 50 years later the research has caught up to what these parents instinctively knew. The first critical 1,100 days of a child’s life is the key window when intervention makes the difference between a child reaching his full potential or losing an irreplaceable opportunity.

However, a number of factors combined over the past five years to cause an explosion in the need for early intervention services, including the increase in and earlier diagnosis of Autism, the fact that more and more babies are surviving extreme prematurity, and the recognition of the value of early intervention. In just the past five years, the number of children coming to Kindering has more than doubled. Faced with the choice between turning away a child in need or expanding, Kindering decided to open a second location in Bothell in order to continue to provide help for any child who made need it, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

Kindering Bothell opened its doors to children and their families on March 3 and already sees about 100 students. Kindering will ultimately serve 1,000 children and their families out of the Bothell location, totaling 4,500 children and families between both the Bellevue and the Bothell campuses.

“I feel enormous pride," Morey said. "Enormous pride, really. Because we have something that is real; it’s permanent, and it’s growing.”

Kindering Bothell is located at 19801 North Creek Parkway.

For more information, call 425-747-4004.

To view a video about Morey Wetherald and Kindering’s founding, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEehtZD3kx8.

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