SALINA, Kan. (KSNW) — Families in Salina say Joyce Trower created a program that changes lives for families and children with disabilities.

Trower founded Infant Child Development at the Salina Regional Health Center, 400 S. Santa Fe Ave, in 1977. Since then, the program has grown into what it is today, serving over 200 kids at a time in central Kansas.

“Joyce is just a godsend to our community,” Udana Arceo said.

Arceo has had two children in ICD and has known Trower for 18 years. Arceo says without assistance from ICD, things would be much harder.

“I don’t know if he would be able to get the glasses, I don’t know if he would be able to get the physical therapy where I learn to do things with him,” Arceo said.

Trower says she has had a love for kids since she was young.

When she moved to Salina in 1977, she learned the town didn’t have a pediatric program. So, she took it upon herself to get one.

”I said, ‘You know, I’d really like to do a pediatrics program,'” Trower said. “‘Could we start something like that here?’ And they said ‘Sure.'”

And that’s where the journey began.

“She was a pioneer for all of this,” Arceo said. “She was the one that the forefront who said this is what we’re gonna do.”

Salina Regional Health Center Infant-Child Development (KSN Photo)

Trower and her colleague Sandy Ward started the Infant Child Development program, and it has grown into what it is today. Trower serves as the director.

“Initially, the Infant Child Development program was just occupational and physical therapy, gradually added speech therapy, and then we became a grant-funded infant toddler program,” Trower said.

ICD provides rehabilitation and habilitation for kids with special needs ages 0-3 in Ellsworth, Ottawa, and Saline counties, among other services for kids.

“It’s so rewarding to help families help their child and help their child become more functional and have fun,” Trower said. “A lot of these children have a lot of work to do to do the things that we take for granted and that we can easily do.”

Without Trower, Arceo says she doesn’t think her son Alex would be the same today.

“She’s just an amazing woman,” Arceo said. “She really is.”

Trower says although many days consist of writing grants and organizing fundraisers to keep the doors open, she couldn’t do it without the support from Salina Regional Health Center.