Project Help is an inclusive preschool for young children. Children who have developmental delays learn and play with those who are developing typically. The programs engage children in a variety of fun and exciting educational experiences. Because Project Help is a part of both MTSU and Rutherford County community for nearly 30 years, linkages and relationships are strong due to the involvement of professional educators providing hands-on outreach to families.
Programming and educational activities are based on the Tennessee Early Childhood Education Early Learning Developmental Standards. The staff of Project Help strives to ensure that all of those involved have meaningful and enjoyable learning opportunities.
The program offers training for approximately 300 pre-service education majors each year, as well as serving as a rotation site for Motlow State nursing students. Goal-directed interventions are implemented using evidence-based methods. The staff at Project Help strives to support families in a variety of practical ways: through workshops, one-to-one interactions, and informal training seminars that focus on specific instructional areas.
650 million people are estimated worldwide as having a disability. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census 2004, there were 51 million people with some form of disability -5 million of whom are children.
We know that at some point an individual with a disability will be a part of many people's lives. As a result, Project Help becomes a place to learn of quality interventions for the youngest members of our community.
Project Help began nearly three decades ago through the work of a woman who had been an advocate of early intervention all of her professional life, Dr. Ann Campbell. She began working with very young children with disabilities while earning her doctorate at the University of Memphis. It was during this time she co-authored A Model for Preschool Curriculum: Project Memphis. This structured intervention program has been replicated and used throughout the country for decades.
During her first years in Murfreesboro, Dr. Campbell recognized the need for a developmental preschool. In 1983, she and another teacher took cardboard boxes full of toys to the basement of the MTSU's Campus School for a few hours several days a week. It was here that they met and worked with children who were diagnosed with a disability at a very early age. They became know as the Cardboard Box Ladies.
For the first 15 years Project Help was housed in various open office "spaces" on the MTSU campus. Families brought their babies and toddlers who had delays and disabilities to get the help that they deserved. Parents were offered a variety of training and support experiences; this included one-way transportation, which was crucial during the early years. Even in the limited surroundings, MTSU students were presented with hands on practical instructional opportunities as a part of their teacher-training programs.
Dr. Campbell, working in conjunction with the Christy-Houston Foundation, the United Way, Charity Circle of Murfreesboro, MTSU, and other gracious individuals in the community, acquired the money for the current main building at 206 North Baird Lane, which opened in 1997.