New class offered for children with disabilities

Published 8:02 am Friday, February 21, 2020

ASHLAND — The Ashland Foundation for Children with Disabilities and Aspire! Conservatory have partnered together to create a special class designed for special children.

AFCD and Aspire! Conservatory announced on Tuesday that enrollment was now open for a brand-new class, “Special Kids, Special Needs”, an art class designed for children with disabilities or special-needs.

“We’re really excited about our partnership with the Aspire! Conservatory,” said Carly Carver, director of the AFCD.

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AFCD is a 501 c3 non-profit organization that serves low-income families in the FIVCO region that are raising a special-needs child, as well as provides financial supports for therapies, equipment, and other resources.

“Since AFCD serves the special-needs community, and primarily serves families raising a special-needs child with their financial burdens, we will be offering a limited amount of scholarships to the class as well,” said Carver. “We want to make sure all children have the opportunity to be a part of this class.”

Aspire! Conservatory, a 501c3 non-profit organization, currently offers private lessons in piano, voice, guitar, strings, woodwind, brass and percussion as well as group classes in piano, voice, art and theatre.

“Special Kids, Special Needs” will be the first art-class of its kind catered to the special-needs community in Ashland. Aspire! Conservatory additionally partners with Uptown Musik, a Kindermusik program, that offers a special-needs music class.

DeNeil Hartley, the Administrative Director of the Aspire! Conservatory, said that this new class has been in development for several years.

“This is something Aspire! Conservatory has envisioned for a few years,” said Hartley. “I am particularly excited about this new partnership with AFCD about what we can accomplish in serving this special population.”

The classes will be held at Aspire! Conservatory, which is housed at First Baptist Church located at 1701 Winchester Ave., and are limited to eight students per class. The classes will be taught by Annie Johnson, a public-school educator and special-needs mother. AFCD will be providing additional trained volunteers to assist in the classes.

“Scientific and medical studies reveal the important role art-related activities play in mental, physical, and social development of children,” said Hartley. “We want to make sure this is available to all children.”

The first class, which is a beginner level introduction to art, will begin on March 10 and end on March 31. Classes will be held each Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The second class, an intermediate level art course, will begin April 14 and run through May 5. Classes will be held each Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“The great part about the classes is that they aren’t divided by age,” said Carver. “We want families to register for the classes that best suit their child’s ability level, because we know that doesn’t always match the child’s age.”

The classes are $60 for the month. Registration and inquires can be made by emailing Hartley at or Carver at

For additional information on Aspire! Conservatory, visit For additional information on the Ashland Foundation for Children with Disabilities, visit Visit both non-profit organizations online on