by Mark R. Potter

Regional Editor

Two local groups combined their efforts last week to help provide new opportunities to children at the Akron Zoo.

Help Me Grow, the County of Summit Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, and the zoo partnered July 23 to educate children up to 3 years old with and without disabilities through developmental classes at the zoo.

"The zoo is for children of all different abilities, and animals don't see a child with disabilities, they just see a child," said Lucky Tisch, director of community relations for Summit MRDD.

Grow of Summit County, a non-profit organization, which officials say teaches families building blocks for learning and development for the first three years of a child's life.

"I think it's important for us to try and have programs like this to help maintain visibility in the community," said Cathy Marrone, project director for Help Me Grow.

More than 350 people had signed up to participate in the July 23 program, which began with a morning developmental toddler class where children had the opportunity to pet a rabbit, followed by exploring the zoo for the remainder of the day. Children were also provided with T-shirts to commemorate the event.

An early intervention specialist from Summit MRDD was on hand to lead the group activities and provide parents with resources and activities to support language and social skills.

For more information on Summit MRDD, visit www.csbmrdd.com or www.ohiohelpmegrow.org for Help Me Grow.

E-mail: mpotter@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3154