CTU’s “Ark” celebrates 20 years of helping children with special needs reach their full potential

Kids' Health
MultiCare Foundations
Last year, donors’ generosity provided Mary Bridge Good Samaritan Children’s Therapy Unit (CTU) with funding to close the gaps on uncompensated care and services, such as toys for occupational therapy; a “Go Baby Go” course for staff to learn how to build ride-on vehicles; behavioral health consults; “Sibshops” sibling support groups; staff and parent education; Movement Lab equipment; and Assistive Technology supplies. You can celebrate CTU’s impact and support the children in your community by giving today through the MultiCare Good Samaritan Foundation.

By Shelby Taylor

Mary Bridge Good Samaritan Children’s Therapy Unit (CTU) is a place full of possibilities for children with developmental concerns, such as autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Here, kids learn and explore new skills led by a team of highly trained pediatric specialists in a playful, nurturing environment.

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of CTU serving kids with special needs in the beautiful Ark building on the MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital campus.

The Ark is born

CTU’s legacy of helping South Sound children began in 1966 when Good Samaritan occupational therapist, Linda Yates — an intern at that time — was asked to treat kids with special needs. Over time, CTU moved from a shared space with adult rehab into a single room of its own. As CTU grew, one room wasn’t enough. Mary Bridge Good Samaritan Children’s Therapy Unit required a building of its own — the Ark.

“I remember when building the Ark, therapists and staff were invited to share input,” Administrator for Rehabilitation and Specialty Practices for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Marianne Bastin, shares. “We were asked what was needed and what was desired. It was fun to watch it go up, and our patients at the time loved to drive by the ‘Building of Possibility.’”

“I also … did a lot of tours,” Marianne continues. “The most common comment by the physicians was, ‘Is there any other place like this? I’ve never seen anything else this comprehensive before.’”

CTU today

Twenty years later, CTU continues to offer comprehensive support, treatments and therapies for children like Peter Smith.

Peter was diagnosed with diplegia — a type of cerebral palsy (CP) that affects his legs and left arm — at the age of two. Soon after, Peter began to visit CTU twice a week. He took his first steps in the CTU therapy pool.

“I think that Mary Bridge and CTU provide a scaffolding for us,” Peter’s mom, Annette, says. “There is no cure (for CP), but it provides a framework for us to build on. They give us tools, and we apply them.”

In 2019, CTU served 3,804 children, and community donations helped fund 41,877 treatment visits. Though the year isn’t quite over, 2020 will show nearly the same number served. Even as CTU was closed for a few weeks, its services remained in high demand.

When you make a donation to Mary Bridge Good Samaritan Children’s Therapy Unit, children with special needs can develop and thrive with individually tailored sessions, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.