Gateway Education and Therapy, formerly Gateway Center for the Arts, will move from its Elm Street location in Downtown Washington to a new facility in Union this summer.

With the move will be a restructuring that focuses on providing special needs programs such as applied behavior analysis therapy, behavior, eating and social challenges, speech and language therapy and social skills.

Gateway will continue to offer art and theater to all children, but will suspend dance and tumbling classes.

The center’s new address will be 1281 Church St. The target opening date in the new building is Sept. 1.

Kim Helm, executive director of the nonprofit center, said that there wasn’t as much of a demand for dance and tumbling, but that the special needs program has “exploded” since the facility opened.

Currently, Gateway Education and Therapy serves about 75 families per week through all of its classes and about 150 per year.

New Opportunities

Although Helm said she’s sad to leave Downtown Washington, where she has been since the agency opened in 2009, she is excited about the new opportunities being in a larger building will bring.

The facility will be in a more centralized location to serve Franklin County, Helm said, adding that the Developmental Services of Franklin County’s behavioral program also will move into the building.

“We work really closely with the Developmental Services of Franklin County and really compliment each other,” she said. “This will give us a lot of opportunity to collaborate and offer service coordination.”

Helm said the safety of the downtown building was worrisome. Steps leading to some of the classrooms and walking long distances from parking spaces was difficult for some clients.

Additionally, pavement leading to the building is uneven, which also is hard for those with limited mobility.

Helm said she constantly worried about kids running into the busy street and said great care had to be taken just to get them in the door.

“I’m excited about having a facility where I can actually safely serve children and that has adequate space,” Helm said.

In the larger facility, Helm plans to expand staff and have a larger capacity to serve more families. The new location also has a parking lot. She also hopes to add a gifted program in the future.

Helm currently is working toward getting a certificate in behavioral analysis. She also is a member of the Developmental Disabilities Resource Board.