Empowering Children with Special Needs: The Journey of Children’s TherAplay Foundation

The Children’s TherAplay Foundation is a remarkable nonprofit pediatric outpatient clinic dedicated to serving children with disabilities. Driven by the noble mission of enabling these children to live life to their fullest potential, the Foundation provides a warm and supportive environment for both children and their families. TherAplay is home to the largest clinic in the country providing physical, occupational, and speech therapies in a nontraditional way.

Hippotherapy, a therapeutic technique using horseback riding, has emerged as a cornerstone of the organization’s caring approach. This unique and innovative method has allowed countless kids to experience life-changing outcomes, providing them with newfound hope, joy, and independence.

A Partnership Like No Other
As architects, engineers, and interior designers, we are proud to collaborate with TherAplay, embarking on a journey to design a clinical space that revolutionizes pediatric care for children with special needs. Recognizing the countless hours these kids spend in traditional healthcare settings, our shared vision includes creating an environment that exudes joy, engagement, and a sense of wonder while prioritizing patient experiences. This project aimed to break free from conventional notions, allowing kids to be kids, while receiving top-notch treatment in a functional and ADA-accessible space. To offer a more welcoming environment, the small existing clinical space was demolished, and our team designed a state-of-the-art space that includes extra-large restrooms for patients with mobility issues, a mudroom, increased clinical spaces, a therapy gym with specialized equipment, an observation and work area for families, and administrative offices. The transformation is a testament to the power of imagination, compassion, and innovation in pediatric healthcare. Together, we have redefined what a clinical space can and should be—a place where laughter, healing, and hope converge.

Meeting Challenges With Tangible Results

The Children’s TherAplay Foundation project was the result of a unique design-build relationship with F.A. Wilhelm Construction that was completed in 2019. Divided into three phases, this portion marks Phase II. Since the project’s completion, the outpouring of positive community feedback has been overwhelming, with a waiting list to receive care. With more opportunities to make profound differences and a wonderful group of caregivers who are literally trotting a new course for these amazing youngsters, the Owners can better manage caseloads. The clinic’s reimagined space, featuring bright colors and a rustic, calming feel, has created an engaging environment for the young patients and inspired envy among their siblings who long to join the fun. Furthermore, the success extends far beyond its newly designed space. It represents a triumph of compassion, innovation, and community support, where the needs of children with disabilities come first.

Throughout the project, our team never lost sight of who the spaces were being designed to accommodate, and we believe that mindset allowed us to achieve our goals and overcome the significant challenge of designing an addition to the existing horse arena, where the original roofline had to be taken into consideration. To address this effectively, we designed a space that was oriented to the length of the building to make the addition as narrow as possible. This kept the ceilings higher and made the spaces feel larger and more open, creating a dynamic environment that is changing lives for the better.

Coming soon
The Children’s TherAplay Foundation is currently fundraising for an event and programming space. Once goals are met, Phase III will be ready for construction. For this phase, we have the pleasure of working with Meyer Najem Construction, and we are looking forward to what’s on the horizon.

As a compassionate community, we all have the power to make profound impacts in the lives of these extraordinary children and their families. If you are as compelled by what you read, let’s talk about your next Community design project. Then, learn about TherAplay’s remarkable work and ways to help.