We invite you to help fund the Wonderwood Academy, the first school in the country to make it their mission to implement all that is known about how students with Down syndrome learn best. The location of the first campus will be announced in the spring of 2015, and will likely be in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, where the incidence of Down syndrome is the highest in the nation by almost 50%.

What Is Needed

As a country we have made wonderful progress toward including all students in school. But young people with Down syndrome need to be included in LIFE. They need the best possible foundation of academics, presented in a way that is creatively, dynamically customized for how their brains work. And then they need opportunities for real inclusion, for the rest of their lives, in their careers and in their communities.

emily

We’d like you to meet Emily, one of the potential students of the Wonderwood Academy. Emily is a smart, enthusiastic 17-year-old who loves science and medicine. In Emily’s free time she copies detailed diagrams from anatomy textbooks, and she reads first-aid manuals for fun. For years she has told everyone that her goal is to be a dental assistant. Without a revolutionary change in her education, however, Emily’s dream is completely out of reach. Like most people with Down syndrome, the left hemisphere of Emily’s brain is significantly impaired. Speech and language production, working memory, and the centers that control math and other kinds of calculations are all slower and less efficient.

Emily can tell you all about the circulatory system, but her speech would be hard for you to understand. She can explain a five-step process for emergency triage, but she couldn’t tell you how many more stretchers are needed if you only have two and there are five people. Without a miraculous change in Emily’s life, she will end up like almost every adult with Down syndrome—working at a job that doesn’t begin to tap into her capabilities. Without an innovative new opportunity, she may end up dusting library tables or cleaning up preschool toys instead of doing what she really loves.

The good news–in fact, the GREAT news–is that decades of outstanding scholarly research have uncovered many unique methods of enhancing learning in students with Down syndrome, often by channeling information through the right hemisphere of their brain, and by capitalizing on their amazing strengths.

Almost none of these findings have ever been applied in schools. Now it is time to make this happen.

We need you. Your donation of $10, $50–or $500–will help develop new math materials that are right-brained, or pay to train an already exceptional instructor to teach science using sounds, sensations, and visual images, or help include fabulous speech therapy in everyday conversations at the school. Help us prepare to open the doors in 2015!

How We Can Change the Future

The Wonderwood Academy will do three things to change the lives of students like Emily.

*** First, we will utilize neurological pathways that are strengths as described above.

*** Second, we will promote inclusion within the community. We will involve normally developing peers and community members throughout every day. Through our school’s vocational projects, we will help local businesses thrive and create advocates for our students’ futures.

*** Third, we will prepare students for careers that matter. We will help students find ways to work in jobs that are challenging and fulfilling to them personally. A combined program of strengthening their academic abilities, teaching personal management skills, and training in specific job skills will prepare our students to make real contributions to society.

Please help us give students with Down syndrome a chance to show what they can REALLY do!