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Hospital grant will benefit youth with intellectual disabilities

NIAGARA FALLS — A three-year grant awarded to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is designed to assure that young people with intellectual disabilities and their families are connected to needed programs and services.

The $339,154 grant from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation will support a project called “Close the Gaps.” The project begins on June 1 and will provide service coordination and care management to youth with intellectual disabilities from newborns to young adults in Niagara Falls.

Close the Gaps was created in direct response to a disability rate in the Niagara Falls School District which is 23 percent higher than the national rate of 13 percent, according to Sheila K. Kee, chief operating officer at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

Additionally, an overwhelming majority of children living in Niagara Falls are economically disadvantaged so there is a need for this project, added Kee.

The program will partner with the Niagara County Early Intervention program, the Niagara Falls School District and several education, employment training and job placement agencies.

The goals are to increase early intervention for preschoolers, boost pre-K enrollment, connect infants born at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to Early Intervention services, reduce the high school dropout rate and enroll disabled high school students in post-secondary vocational training, employment and job training programs.