|Welcome to Rise Tuscaloosa|
On October 1, 1974, Rise was funded by the U.S. Office of Health, Education and Welfare as a demonstration program designed to serve young children with physical disabilities from birth to five years of age. The program was one of the first 150 early intervention programs that were federally funded. Located in one room of a house on the campus of The University of Alabama, Rise served 6 young children with a staff that consisted of a teacher, a teacher assistant and a family service coordinator. After three years of federal funding, The University of Alabama funded the program in 1977. At this time Rise had expanded to include three classrooms and 24 children. The focus of the program expanded to include more diversity in enrollment. In addition to children with cerebral palsy and spina bifida, Rise served children with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. The staff had expanded to include teachers, teacher assistants, the family service coordinator and consulting speech, physical, and occupational therapists. The program began using integrated therapy as an underlying curriculum consideration and by 1978 had moved to Wilson Hall. This converted women’s dormitory would house Rise for 16 years.
By 1986, the program had expanded to include 60 children with disabilities and their typically developing peers. The program began to change dramatically in scope. The curriculum changed to reflect a blending of the recommended practices of early childhood special education, early childhood education and child development. The program expanded to become a more complete unit on campus, addressing not only the mission of service, but also teaching and research. The funding of the program became a combination of support from the University, state contracts and grants, fundraisers and private donations.
In 1990, Gene Stallings became the head football coach at The University of Alabama and immediately became an advocate for the Rise Program. His son, Johnny was born with Down syndrome in 1962 in Tuscaloosa when Stallings was an assistant football coach at Alabama for the legendary Bear Bryant. Having little or no support when Johnny was born, Coach Stallings and his wife, Ruth Ann appreciated the availability of the services provided by the Rise Program. In 1991, a special employment program was initiated that provided jobs to adults with Down syndrome. In 1992, The University of Alabama began a capital campaign that included a new facility for the Rise Program. As the campaign began, Coach Stallings led the football program to the national championship and received the Bryant trophy as the national coach of year. Shortly afterwards, the Rise Program met it's goal and the new facility, The Stallings Center opened on November 30, 1994. As a result, the program expanded to include 6 classrooms serving 80 children with a staff of 34 individuals as well as consulting speech therapists, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist. In this state-of-the-art facility, the program has gained national prominence by: