Center for Exceptional Families receives grant from the Jewish Fund

A $60,000 grant from the Jewish Fund will help support therapeutic programs for children with disabilities at the Oakwood Center for Exceptional Families.

The funds, which will be dispersed in two equal payments in 2012 and 2013, will support the Inclusive Therapeutic Recreation Program at the Center, which is based in Dearborn and serves families from 12 different counties in southeastern Michigan, as well as the Upper Peninsula and Ohio.

“The Jewish Fund is very pleased to support the expansion of inclusive programs and services of Oakwood’s Center for Exceptional Families so that more families may benefit through participation,” said Margo Pernick, executive director of the Jewish Fund. “We believe children with special needs and those without benefit by truly understanding the value of all people, including those who differ from themselves, through shared and meaningful experiences.”

Therapeutic Recreation Therapy is a form of physical therapy designed to improve or maintain physical, mental and emotional well-being and help reduce depression, stress and anxiety in children with disabilities. Using activities such as arts and crafts, games, dance and other forms of movement, recreational therapies help patients build or maintain basic motor functioning and reasoning abilities. It also helps them build confidence and socialize more effectively. The inclusive programs funded through the grants will allow the children to interact with other children with disabilities, as well as with their typically-developing peers in order to help change the perception of disabilities and set a new standard of care.

“We are truly appreciative of the support for these vital programs,” said Maureen Lullove D’Agostino, Senior Vice President of Organizational Excellence, Accreditation & Compliance, Oakwood Healthcare, the acting executive director of the Center for Exceptional Families. “It is only through partnerships with wonderful organizations like the Jewish Fund that we can continue to offer these services to the community.”

The Center for Exceptional Families serves children with multiple disabilities and their families throughout southeastern Michigan, providing a full range of services from high-quality healthcare to counseling, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and more—all under one roof. The facility, unique in the state, serves children from youth to their adult years, providing a standard continuum of care. It operates in collaboration with the University of Michigan School of Education.

“Six years ago the Oakwood’s Center for Exceptional Families and the University of Michigan-Dearborn School of Education and Early Childhood Education Center began a partnership to create a more inclusive health and learning environment for children with and without disabilities, future teachers and clinicians,” said D’Agostino. “Nowhere else in the country has this kind of partnership been realized.”

“The Center for Exceptional Families is built on passion,” said David Farbman, a long-time supporter who serves on the CEF Board. “So many families and their children have found a fit where these was nowhere else to turn for help.”

The Jewish Fund was established in 1997 through funds from the sale of Sinai Hospital to the Detroit Medical Center, and has since distributed millions in grant funds to a wide variety of organizations throughout southeastern Michigan.

For more information about the Center for Exceptional Families, visit