The University of Toledo Medical Center will celebrate the EduCare Center’s 20th anniversary Wednesday, July 24, at 9:30 a.m. at 1932 Birchwood Ave. in Toledo, marking two decades of support and care for both medically complex and healthy children as envisioned by Toledo pediatrician Dr. Libby Ruppert.The celebration will include a recognition program, developmental screenings for infants and toddlers, children’s activities, an open house of the facility and more.
Twenty years ago, Ruppert, Toledo pediatrician and professor at the Medical College of Ohio, had a vision for a facility to support and care for medically complex children as well as healthy children. Ruppert conducted extensive research on the needs of children with disabilities, dedicating her professional career to the issue.
“What I was looking for is something that did not invade the home,” said Ruppert, UT professor emeritus and EduCare founder. “I wanted to create something that would allow families to access the level of care that their youngsters needed and provide opportunities for socialization, education and learning.“
Her vision for Toledo became reality in 1993 when an abandoned elementary school on Birchwood Avenue in a quiet south Toledo neighborhood reopened as the EduCare Center and reintroduced the building to children’s laughter.
“I think what makes the EduCare Center so unique is that it really is a collaboration of organizations,” said John Trunk, superintendent for the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “The founders, including Dr. Libby Ruppert, recognized early on that what organizations could do together far exceeded what any one organization could do individually.”
The EduCare Center provides education, child care and health care for children with and without special needs. The EduCare Center is a collaboration between the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ Early Intervention Services, The University of Toledo Early Learning Center, the Prescribed Pediatric Center operated by Anne Grady Services, and special education classes of the Toledo Public Schools. Medical and nursing students from UT Medical Center assist with care at the center.
Ruppert worked with UT’s Lawrence J. Burns — who served as MCO’s vice president for institutional advancement at the time and today leads UT’s External Affairs Division — to secure grant funding for the new program. Initial major donors included the Hasbro Children’s Foundation, the Satellites of the Medical College of Ohio, the Kettering Fund, National City Bank, the Harris McIntosh family, General Mills Inc. and the Children’s Miracle Network.