The WHAS Crusade for Children has named McCracken County Public Schools among its 2019 grant winners, awarding the special education department $13,000 for sensory equipment and communications technology for students with special needs.
The Crusade’s support will help replicate Hendron Lone Oak’s successful sensory program at two additional schools to better serve McCracken’s growing population of high-need students. Funds will also help launch an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Library that can be used districtwide to test which AAC technology best supports each student’s needs.
In the last three years the number of high-need students served in McCracken County schools has increased 66 percent from only about 75 in 2015 to 125 at last count, including 87 with autism. As the district’s special needs students increase in number, their needs are increasing in variation and complexity as well. This grant will give McCracken’s 125-plus students with autism and Functional Mental Disabilities additional communication supports and much-needed opportunities for sensory therapy, empowering them to more fully participate in and benefit from classroom learning.
WHAS announced the awards following its 66th annual Crusade for Children telethon, the oldest local telethon in America. Since 1954, the Crusade has raised more than $190 million for organizations that serve special needs children in all 120 Kentucky counties and more than 50 southern Indiana counties.
The Crusade awarded 218 grants this year totaling nearly $5.7 million. An independent board of interdenominational ministers reviewed applications and met with applicants this spring before selecting the final grantees. The Crusade Advisory Panel gives preference to applicants from communities who support the Crusade through fundraising.
Fire departments raise more than 50 percent of Crusade funds each year by staging road blocks and other events, with the rest coming from community fundraisers, Crusade license plates, and the annual June telethon.