By Amy Milroy, MS Ed
Not long after Jennifer Degner was born, her parents noticed something wasn’t quite right with her development. One of Jennifer’s arms wasn’t moving like it should. Her parents talked with her doctors and although they didn’t seem concerned, the Degners just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going on with their daughter.
Feeling anxious and unsure of where to turn, Jennifer’s parents needed support – both for their baby and for themselves. A friend suggested they talk to Lee Ann Britain, who had recently established the Infant Development Center, a therapy and support program for families of children with developmental challenges. When Jennifer was two years old, she began receiving services at the IDC, and her family finally started getting the answers and the support they so desperately needed. When Jennifer’s mom felt helpless watching her little girl struggle with everyday tasks, daily conversations with Lee Ann helped lift her spirits.
The care Jennifer received at the IDC soon (finally) led to a diagnosis: Jennifer had cerebral palsy.
The Degners continued going to the IDC regularly and Jennifer thrived. The team of therapists, teachers and other staff felt like a second family to them. When Jennifer was a teenager, she even served as a volunteer at the Center. That experience, coupled with the positive influence of the IDC teachers throughout her childhood, led her to choose education as a career path.
The Degners first went to the IDC in the early 1970s when Jennifer was just a baby. Today, more than 40 years later, Jennifer is thriving as an early childhood special education teacher in the Olathe School District. If you ask her, she’ll tell you her success is due in no small part to the support she and her family received at the IDC; the Center’s staff gave her family hope, confidence and the tools to help her grow into a capable, passionate woman.
We are so proud of Jennifer!
As the director of the Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center on the Shawnee Mission Medical Center campus, I am touched everyday by stories like Jennifer’s – stories of perseverance and independence and success. Each time a family walks through our doors seeking assistance for their child with special needs, our team is eager to help them learn the best ways to support their child.
If you have or know a young child with special needs, the Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center is here.
Established in 1972, the Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center has helped more than 4,000 children and will soon be able to serve even more families, thanks to a generous lead gift from Doug and Nan Smith. In the new facility, the B.E. Smith Family Center will offer enhanced therapeutic treatment and educational offerings. For more about the Britain IDC or plans for the future B.E. Smith Family Center, visit https://besmithfamily.org/.