Chuck Burgess, CEO of Brandon Sports and Aquatics Center, and Chris Pello, CEO of Livingstone Academy, worked together to offer educational programming at BSAC for students with intellectual disabilities.

Brandon Sports and Aquatic Club (BSAC) and Livingstone Academy have long been leaders for special needs education in Hillsborough County. Now, they join forces in a new partnership, filling a gap in much needed services for special needs students and adults.

Chuck Burgess, CEO of BSAC, and Chris Pello, CEO Livingstone Schools, met in Leadership Brandon through the Chamber of Commerce in 2014. They quickly built a professional relationship after discovering their common interest in serving the special needs community. As Livingstone Schools continued to grow, so did the need for more space.

Livingstone Schools opened its fourth location, Livingstone Academy Exceptional Center on the BSAC campus, and their program feeds directly into the TRIDENT program offered at BSAC Livingstone Academy Exceptional Center offers programming for students with intellectual disabilities, down syndrome and autism in grades 9-12. This high-school program will focus on academic, social, life and job skills. They will also offer a transition program for students post high school for ages 18-22.

“BSAC is so excited to partner with Livingstone Academy to expand our special needs impact pillar of our organization,” said Burgess. “Partnering with Bernadette and Chris Pello and their amazing organization is a natural fit in that it brings more of a focus and spotlight on the special needs community.”

Once students age out of the traditional school system, however, there are very few resources available for them to continue educational programming. After identifying this gap in services, BSAC created the TRIDENT program for special needs adults in 2011. In TRIDENT, students over the age of 22 are able to come together for socialization, recreation, education, field trips and sports programming.

The new partnership between BSAC and Livingstone ensures that no student or family in need will fall between the cracks. Students can seamlessly transition from Livingstone into TRIDENT with no lapse in programming.

“Our partnership with BSAC is an answer to prayer,” said Pello. “Due to our schools’ tremendous growth, we were in need of a quality educational facility. BSAC provided the ideal space for our high school program and our shared goal of serving the special needs community was a perfect fit.”

Open enrollment for the 2020/2021 school year is available at Livingstone Academy beginning in February. For more information, contact Chris Pello at cpello@livingstoneschools.org and visit their website at Livingstoneschools.org.