A light is growing brighter in the city of Tulsa—the Little Light House. The nonprofit organization, which provides resources to special needs children, is making efforts to expand both its campus and the profound effect it has in Tulsa.
“The Little Light House, as one of our volunteers tagged us, is truly ‘the happiest place in the world,’” says Director of Development Rachel Mouton. “We have been so blessed to see many children accomplish milestones and defeat the odds.”
The Little Light House provides resources to children and their families regardless of religion, race, gender or ability to pay. The group’s mission is “to glorify God by improving the quality of life for children with special needs, their families and their communities.”
Children who are eligible for Little Light House programs usually have conditions such as Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, Autism or blindness. They often come from families who could not afford to pay tuition at private schools catered towards special needs children.
“Many of our families have faced financial struggles due to medical bills and cost of equipment. Some families have even gone from a two-income family to one in order to care for their child,” Mouton says. “Therefore, the Little Light House does not charge any tuition.”
The organization provides education and therapy services (including speech, occupational, physical and low vision therapy) to children aged birth to 6. The focus is placed on young children for a very important reason. “Studies have shown time and time again that early intervention is critical,” Mouton says. “By receiving services at an early age, children are often able to overcome challenges originally thought impossible.”
This is evident as Mouton shares one of her favorite moments working with the Little Light House: “Just a few months ago, we had quite the celebration in our administrative offices when two little girls, ages 3 and 5, took some of their first steps in our building. It was so exciting! We all cheered for them while they proudly took independent steps with the biggest smiles on their faces!”
Little Light House volunteers and professionals not only possess the resources and training necessary to give special needs students a quality education- they also provide care and loving support.
Over its 45-year history, the Little Light House has made a lasting difference in the lives of hundreds of Tulsa area special needs students. The group has even made waves on a global scale, with an online classroom called The Little Anchor and a program which trains international interns. However, their Tulsa campus can only house so many students at a time.
64 students are currently enrolled. Unfortunately, 159 more remain on the program’s waiting list.
The Little Light House is currently in the midst of a nearly $20,000 renovation. The renovation consists of an addition to the current campus, including “eight new and larger classrooms, four training observatories, a large gym for physical therapy, a sensory room, assistive technology room and administrative offices.”
These updates will allow for more classes of an increased size, allowing the Little Light House to more than double its enrollment capacity. The observatories will allow college students, interns and professionals to learn how to work with special needs children. Also included in the renovation plans is the construction of a sensory garden for outdoor play and discovery.
$15.4 million of the necessary funds have already been raised, but the Little Light House is currently working to raise the remaining $4 million needed for final renovations and the construction of the sensory garden.
When it comes down to it, why should Tulsans be interested in the Little Light House, and more generally, the education of special needs children? Mouton explains that involvement in this cause, and interest in the Little Light house, has a deeply profound impact.
“With our training programs, we are literally changing the paradigm of thinking when it comes to individuals with special needs. We are teaching people to see abilities, rather than disabilities.”
Those interested in donating or volunteering can call (918) 664-6746 or visit www.littlelighthouse.org.