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Recreation center for special needs children to celebrate grand opening

LaToya Roper’s son was diagnosed with autism at age 3, which prompted her to establish a local recreation center for children with special needs.

Roper is the owner and Executive Director of Love and Care ECC (Exceptional Children’s Childcare) located at 106 SRP Drive, Suite A in Evans.

The center, which offers an after-school program and summer camp for children ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade, will celebrate the grand opening of its new facility tomorrow, from 12 noon to 2 p.m., with vendors and a fun zone for kids. Love and Care is open to children with mental, physical, and intellectual disabilities, as well as those with visual impairments.

“We have a very small ratio; we don’t have more than 10 in a group with two to three adults,” she said. “We have the only special needs after-school program in the CSRA.”

Roper and her staff offer various activities, such as field trips, creative play, and music.

“We’ve taken them to Putt Putt and Riverwatch Cinemas,” she said. “A lot of our kids have never been to the movies before.”

Roper said many children with disabilities have trouble making friends, and the center gives them the opportunity to do that. They provide life skills training for older children.

“We teach them how to prepare small meals,” she said.

Because many parents must work when their children are out of school, Love and Care is open just about every day during school breaks. Its summer camp lasts all summer.

While the center is located in Columbia County, it’s open to everyone. Parents have brought children from as far away as Atlanta.

Latoya Roper, owner of Love and Care, is excited about teaching children with disabilities in the CSRA.

“We currently have 40 enrollees, but they’re not here every day,” Roper said. “We’re super excited to be able to provide this service for them.”

Her son is now 14 and participates in the center’s activities.

The center is open Monday through Friday. The after-school program is held from 12 noon to 6 p.m., the summer camp will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on school breaks, it’s open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Love and Care was established in 2021 and moved to its current location in Oct. 2022. Roper wanted to launch it in 2020 but was delayed by Covid.

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