It all began in March of 1964, a time when there were no good options for children that had physical and/or intellectual challenges. Children with special needs were not accommodated in schools and so they were either forced to stay home, often hidden away, or society pressured families to hand the care of their child with a disability over to large institutions where contact with family was often discouraged.
Two local parents valued the abilities they could see in their children that had intellectual challenges and they set out to create a program that would meet the needs of their children and other children like them. Mrs. Russell Ashcraft of Warsaw and Mrs. James Gauerke of Coshocton were mothers that knew that their children had potential and that with the right resources they could develop their unique abilities and have a better life. They were determined to create a resource for children like their own to learn. Mrs. Ashcraft sought out and found 20 other children in the county that had similar needs as her own child. She took her idea and the contact information for these families to Dave Tompkins who was the executive secretary of the Child Welfare Department. Mr. Tompkins then gathered more information, located facilities and tested the children. But most importantly, Mr. Tompkins, through his vision and advocacy, convinced the county commissioners to advance the money to begin Hopewell School.
Hopewell School opened in September of 1965 at the Coshocton Presbyterian Church in two rented rooms with two teachers, two aides and 23 students. A lunch program was not provided so sack lunches were brought from home. Drivers using their own private vehicles provided transportation all over the county. At that time services were not offered for Early Intervention, Pre-School, or any therapies. In 1968 a levy was put on the ballot to take the Hopewell Program from under the Children Services’ Board and make it stand on its own. Hopewell also hoped to purchase a bus and hired a home trainer with this levy.
A music program was established in 1969 along with a hot lunch program. The Salvation Army donated the use of their gymnasium for a physical education program. By 1971 the school had 25 pupils, 3 classrooms, 3 teachers, 2 aides, 3 buses and four drivers. One driver still used a private vehicle. Plans were being made to include a preschool class, speech therapy and another bus. In 1973 Hopewell School had a speech therapist and it would be until 1987 before Hopewell School would have a Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist.
In 1984 thanks to the voters of Coshocton County, the State Legislature and the dedication of Representative James Ross, the program moved into the current facility located at 23720 Airport Road. In this building, Hopewell School currently houses Hopewell School, Coshocton Board of DD Administrative Offices, and Early Intervention.
Created from Muskingum County in 1810, Coshocton (pronounced CO-SHOCK-TON) County, which gets its name from the derivative of a Native American word meaning “union of waters,” lies against a beautiful rural setting in central Ohio where the Tuscarawas and Walhonding Rivers meet to form the Muskingum river.
Individuals with disabilities are more active in the community today than ever before. They are employees, volunteers, home owners, business owners, and consumers. The Coshocton County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCBDD) provides the added support individuals with disabilities may need to become an active part of their community. CCBDD provides services for qualified individuals with a developmental disability. Examples of developmental disabilities are Autism, Down Syndrome, or Cerebral Palsy.
The services the CCBDD provides are built around the strengths and needs of each individual and family. These services can begin in infancy with Early Intervention Services when a child first begins to exhibit delays. These services may be provided throughout an individuals' life or an individual may no longer need services. The CCBDD provides individuals and families with resources, referrals, advocacy, and service coordination. The CCBDD acts as a gateway to specialized financial resources that help support the special needs of individuals with disabilities. In addition, CCBDD monitors for health, safety, and quality of life. We provide a 24-hour emergency on-call number that people can call if there is an emergency for an individual with a disability. The services provided by CCBDD today touch a vast network of specialized service providers, community agencies, and community businesses.
As the lead agency for those with disabilities, the Coshocton County Board of DD partners with many private provider agencies and local businesses to meet the needs of those served.