Growing Together Preschool, Inc. is an expanded version of a previously existing preschool program of the Blue Grass Association for Retarded Citizens (BGARC). In September of 1982, Growing Together Preschool, Inc. spun off from its parent organization, BGARC, and incorporated itself. A new program was established offering a comprehensive array of services designed to meet the individual needs of both children with disabilities and non-disabled (typical) children, from birth through five years of age. The original objective of the BGARC preschool program was to provide children with disabilities specialized educational services. By offering a program for disabled and non-disabled children in the same environment, the preschool pioneered an additional objective, which is to provide children with an opportunity to form friendships with individuals of all races, religions, and ability levels. In other words…to “grow together”. At the time, Growing Together Preschool, Inc. was the first preschool in the area to offer a comprehensive, integrated preschool program.
Growing Together Preschool, Inc. is special, not only because of the important work that it does, but also because of the way that it came about. As of the summer of 1982, the preschool’s former location in the Porter Building on the University of Kentucky campus was no longer available for use by BGARC. This created a need for a new and special environment for the preschool’s children. In that time of drastic budget cuts on both the state and federal levels, such a need presented BGARC with quite a dilemma.
Given that the new preschool location required a minimum of six thousand square feet, as well as facilities that were easily accessible to children with disabilities, and yet still economically feasible for the BGARC, an extensive search had to be undertaken. After a great deal of exhaustive work, the renovation of a vacant building next door to the BGARC’s main office on Georgetown Street proved to be the most cost effective option.
The building that was chosen for Growing Together Preschool, Inc. was offered for use by the Julius Marks Home with a fifty year lease at a cost of $1.00 per year. Although the location had ample space for the preschool program, it was desperately in need of quite extensive and expensive renovation work. Many members of the community, both individuals and businesses, volunteered their time and services in order to ready the building for the beginning of the fall semester. It took many long hours and much effort on the parts of a great many individuals, but the result was a beautiful, stimulating, physical facility to house this model preschool program.
Growing Together Preschool, Inc. remained at the location on the Julius Marks property until August of 1988. In 1986, the Urban County Government asked the preschool to relocate, as they had plans for the property at 894 Georgetown Street. The Board, once again, was assigned the task of finding a home for the preschool. In June, 1988 a new facility become available at 599 Lima Drive, which was located within a half mile of our original site. As in 1982, the Board, staff, and community volunteers donated hours of service to assist in the move to a new location. The new location has given us the opportunity to expand our program by providing services for an additional 160 children, and enhanced services to children with disabilities. It is our desire to call this location “home” for years to come…