Ribbon cuttings are always a time of joy and excitement for a business’ future, but tonight the cutting of a bright red ribbon also symbolized the opportunity to better the futures of hundreds of children from nine different counties. With the grand opening of a Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation Center for Jacob’s Ladder, over 600 children a week will be able to benefit from physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
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Encouraged by a grant from Starlight Children’s Foundation, Jacob’s Ladder was able to move from their Portage facility to a larger location at 1595 S Calumet Rd. Suite 3 in Chesterton. One of the amenities of the new facility is an indoor playground and gym complete with a ball pit, climbing wall, trampoline, and pirate ship.
“One of the blessings of this huge gym is that a lot more kids want to come for therapy here. As much as we serve our customers, we need help from the community for those children that can’t afford it,” said Executive Director Mariann Frigo.
Frigo said that their waiting list “exploded” from 30 to over 100 kids with the new facility. Frigo founded Jacob’s Ladder as a nonprofit organization for her son, Jacob. In Indiana, First Steps is a program for special needs children ages zero to three. Frigo explained that at three years old, about 70% of these children do not get accepted into their school’s therapy, leaving them with nowhere to go. When Jacob graduated First Steps, Frigo knew that he still needed therapy. She then opened Jacob’s Ladder.
A pirate ship, which accompanies the playground in the gym, was built and designed by a patient’s father. The ship is complete with a quiet room with dimming lights for patients who need less stimulus; stairs and a ladder for patients who need help learning to climb; and a cozy corner to act as a quiet hiding place.
“This is a really good tool for physical therapy and it’s beautiful and bright,” said Robbin Kern, Developmental Therapist for First Steps.
Chesterton Town Manager Bernie Doyle said, “[Jacob’s Ladder] is a continuation of our emphasis in the community on both pediatric care as well as senior living. That’s very much a strong point of Chesterton. Now we have Jacob’s Ladder in this new facility and we can expand on the pediatric care that up until recently we didn’t have as much as we would have liked to have had. It all fits in with the big plan. We couldn’t be more pleased. It’s such a wonderful organization for the kids.”
Because Jacob’s Ladder is the only nonprofit therapy center in the area, families travel from surrounding counties for sessions. In turn, they not only benefit from the services of Jacob’s Ladder, but also the stores and restaurants of Chesterton.
“It’s wonderful to have a business and an organization to come here that has a regional impact for children with special needs,” said Duneland Chamber President Maura Durham. “It’s a safe place for them and I know they are very excited about having the gym and additional resources. I was talking to one of the workers and they said that the kids are actually interacting that much better because of the resources they have.”
“Jacob’s Ladder has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last 5 years,” said Director of the Marketing and Business Department Candace Arvin. “So much so that we needed a new home to meet the need within the communities we serve. With more space and new tools, our therapists are able to encourage each child’s growth in more ways ultimately helping them to reach their full potential.”