Children’s Room Awarded LEAP Grant

The Larchmont Public Library’s Burchell Children’s Room has been awarded a coveted LEAP (Literacy and Education in Action Program) grant by Better World Books. The grant totals just over $7,800 and will be used to develop a series of programs and collection of books and materials for children with developmental disabilities and their families.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six children in the United States suffered from a developmental disability in 2006-2008. According to the New York State Department of Education, the Mamaroneck School District (which includes Larchmont) has a special education classification rate of nearly 10%. The Larchmont Public Library realized that this segment of population is underserved by the library and thus applied for this grant. The grant will fund a three-tiered program aimed at helping special needs children and their families. The first tier will provide for a series of programs called “Sensory Storytime.” These storytime programs for school-aged children, will be held on Saturday mornings twice each month beginning in September 2014, and will be led by a local Speech Language Therapist. Each hour-long storytime will incorporate a 30-minute interactive story time and a 30-minute period of play and socialization. Children and their families will be engaged through movement, music, preschool level stories and play.  The second tier will call for the development of a storytime collection of music CDs and an updating of the library’s collection of books that serve the needs of this population of children. The new collection will include DVDs and parenting materials and books about children with disabilities written for children. The third tier provides in-service training for the library’s clerical and reference staff on how to effectively interact with special needs children and their families. This training will also explore ways to expand services to include young adults. Sensory Storytime will give children a pathway to learn and a place to socialize outside of school. The new materials available in the library will offer caregivers resources to help them deal with issues and support curriculum. The in-service training provides the tools for library staff to help special needs children. Additionally, the structure of Sensory Storytime allows for measurable statistics for all three tiers.