When former board member Eivind Lange told Community Gatepath CEO Sheryl Young he wanted to make a donation, he asked her to come up with something she wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.
On Thursday afternoon before a crowd of Lange family members, staff and parents of Community Gatepath students, Lange cut the ribbon on the new Betty Ivey Lange Technology Library at the Niall P. McCarthy Center for Children & Families in Burlingame, named for his late wife.
“I know that Betty would have been extremely pleased,” Lange said as he cut the ribbon. “To Betty!”
The library will house assistive technology, such as computers and iPads with programs augmenting speech and motor skills for special needs children. Children will be able to work with alternative communication devices and parents will be able to learn about and test out equipment they may want to purchase for their children.
“Technology today makes such a difference in the life of young children,” said Young. “It’s just an incredible gift.”
Plans for the library include one-on-one therapy sessions, parent education and group instruction.
“I think it’s going to be a real opportunity for families to have resources and a space in order for them to have training and a learning ground and access to technology,” said Lisa Valerio, a parent of a Community Gatepath student. “To be able to share our learning and learn from others…this is just another way to reach more families and connect.”
Valerio is mom to 9-year-old Nathan, a non-verbal, autistic child, and runs the autism support group each month. She began bringing Nathan to Community Gatepath as a toddler after noticing words slowly disappearing from his repertoire.
The devices made available at the Betty Ivey Lange Technology Library enhance the learning and communication potential for children like Nathan.
“We can’t stress enough, this is a game changer for our agency,” said Gabrielle Karampelas, Vice President Strategic Initiatives. “[Mr. Lange said]…If this library helps one child, that’s what Betty would have wanted.”
The library plans to serve more than one child however, as Community Gatepath helped 948 children last year. The goal of Community Gatepath is instilling dignity and independence in children and adults with disabilities. It is the largest agency of its kind in San Mateo County, and the library is a welcome addition.
“I can’t thank the family enough for giving us this opportunity to share and learn with each other,” said Valerio. “We’re going to be able to share so much. Everybody can learn from this.”