Faulkner County Day School plans New Year’s 5K, anniversary celebration

by Sonja J. Keith

It has been 50 years since the Junior Auxiliary of Conway created the Faulkner County Day School to help meet the needs of families with children with developmental disabilities who were not allowed to attend public school.

The day school began with six children in a borrowed classroom. Today, it has grown to serve more than 300 clients with developmental disabilities ranging from mild developmental delays to severe mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy.

The day school has two programs – Milestones and Work Force. Teresa Little is the early child services director and Tom Erbach is the adult services director. Ruth Castleberry is the executive director.

This week, the day school will mark its 50th anniversary with a 5K at 10 a.m. Saturday with a reception to follow at about 11 a.m.

A “Racin’ New Year’s Eve 5K” will begin and end at the school, located at 1700 South Blvd. in Conway. Proceeds will be used to purchase teaching supplies and materials.

“This race has generated a lot of interest,” Little said. “I think it’s going to be the biggest one we’ve had.”

Registration forms can be downloaded at fcds-conway.org. Day of the race registration will be 8:45-9:45 a.m. The entry fee is $25 which includes a race T-shirt. Trophies, medals and ribbons will be awarded.

Tours of the Milestones and Work Force buildings are scheduled 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Representatives of First Security Bank and Arvest Bank will also be on hand with their grills to provide food for the event.

According to Little, a casual party atmosphere is planned with party hats and decorations. She said former and current staff members, board members and clients are invited and encouraged to attend.

“We want anybody associated with us in any way to be here to celebrate with us.”

Little, who has worked at the day school for nearly 30 years, said the agency has seen a lot of change in 50 years including state and federal funding cuts. “The community is the reason it has stayed,” she said. “We have tremendous community support.”

Reflecting on the students served, Little said it is heartwarming when she hears from a family member who shares information about a former student’s success and the role the day school played. “It’s the best job ever.”

For more information on the day school and the anniversary celebration, call 501.329.8102.