The Down Syndrome Association of Tampa Bay is excited to call Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association its new home. It will be offering programming for families with children with Down syndrome.

Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association will be reopening this month and brings with it new programming and community partnerships. One of those partnerships is with the Down Syndrome Association of Tampa Bay (DSATB). Center Place will be its new home.

“Having a home at Center Place is huge,” said DSATB’s executive director, Craig Woodard. “It enables us to have the ability to offer programming for occupational therapy, physical therapy, group meetings for families and guest speakers. These speakers would be doctors, nurses or specialists from the Brandon community who could assist with our programming or help our families.”

The Down Syndrome Association of Tampa Bay is a local nonprofit that advocates and helps families with children who have Down syndrome.

“We have been in existence for a little over three years now and we have accomplished so much in such a short time,” Woodard said. “This opportunity with Center Place gives us a chance to help new parents in our community with the resources they need while they are on this journey with their child.”

Woodard and the rest of his team are also excited about Center Place opening on Sunday, March 21 because it is World Down Syndrome Day.

“They say it takes roughly 21 days to build a habit,” Woodard said. “Well, starting on March 1, I need your help. My son, Craig Woodard Jr., is in first grade, attending Ippolito Elementary School in Riverview. My wife, Christine Woodard, is an educator with Charter School USA in Riverview as well. I have heard on several occasions that the R-word has been and is being said frequently by both students and surprisingly educators. This is extremely disturbing in 2021. I would like to invite everyone to join DSATB in our 21-day challenge to ‘Spread the Word to End the Word.’ This challenge will bring awareness to how disrespectful the word ‘retarded’ is and challenge us all to extend our vocabulary and use another word to get our point across. When you hear the word, speak up and do not allow it to be said in your presence. That is the time to educate. I have done this many times too.”

The Down Syndrome Association of Tampa Bay will be at Center Place’s grand reopening to talk about its ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ and all the programs it is planning to offer at its new home at Center Place.

To learn more, visit Center Place is located at 619 Vonderburg Dr., Ste. B in Brandon.

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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.