“Why We Support the Coralwood Foundation”
"The first time we heard about Coralwood School was when we were fifteen weeks pregnant with our son, Colin, and had just learned that he had Down Syndrome. Upon learning of our unborn son’s diagnosis we immediately connected with the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta and met a group of parents with children, both typical and special needs, who attended Coralwood School. The excitement and enthusiasm with which those parents spoke to us about Coralwood was hard to forget, even though at the time we were not yet thinking clearly about what school our son may attend someday. After Colin was born in September 2007, we continued to hear about Coralwood, and its unique inclusion environment for learning. However, as new parents of a child with a disability, we still did not fully comprehend why Coralwood was held in such high esteem by so many families in the community.
A handful of years have passed, and Colin is just shy of his sixth birthday and a student in an inclusion Pre-K class at Coralwood. Colin did not walk independently until shortly before his third birthday, and he was essentially non-verbal when he started in the Preschool program at Coralwood at age three. Within the first few weeks of attending Coralwood, we noticed that Colin’s speech and vocabulary increased dramatically, as did his interpersonal and social skills with others. He was excited about going to school each day and the child that did not walk on his own until he was almost three years old was now running everywhere! It was apparent that Colin was energized by his new school environment, and we immediately fell in love with the teachers and staff at Coralwood. We finally understood the sentiment so many other parents shared with us about this school.
We understand, as realistic parents of a child with a disability, Colin’s learning and development are delayed, and he continues to face a variety of challenges every day just to keep up with his peers. Regardless, we want what every parent wants for their child – we hope that our son makes friends, enjoys hobbies and sports, obtains a quality education, pursues a job or career that he loves, contributes and gives back to his community, and most importantly, that he is happy. For us, Coralwood is the place where the foundation of all these hopes and dreams begin.
Coralwood is not simply an early elementary learning center. It is a place of promise and hope for all students of all abilities. It is a place where our son is accepted for his differences and encouraged by his teachers and peers to succeed. It is a place where he is challenged to push himself every day and is expected to follow the same rules and protocol as anyone else, regardless of the physical and intellectual challenges associated with having Down Syndrome. It is a place where he is taught compassion and patience for others, and it is also a place where he is taught to be a leader and to strive for excellence every day in everything he does.
We expect great things of Colin and know that he is intelligent and capable of accomplishing many things in life. The educational foundation and sense of community that Coralwood provides to its students can change lives. It has changed our lives. Because of Coralwood, we are now confident that Colin will continue to progress and mature and that he is on a path to successful growth. Because of the community that is Coralwood School, we are filled with hope for Colin’s future."
~ Todd, Lila and Colin Cooperider