Officials and educators at Missouri Southern State University on Thursday cut the ribbon for the new ACACIA Center for Applied Campus Behavior Analysis, which will serve families of children with autism spectrum disorders and other behaviors.
The facility will provide behavioral, educational and social services to children while providing students in Missouri Southern with a hands-on learning environment and work experience in education and psychology, said Ayla Schmick, her director.
The ACACIA Center – which stands for acceptance, community, academics, engagement, inclusiveness and advocacy – is named after the acacia, native to Africa and Australia and a highly adaptive and hardy species, said Lorinda Hackett, vice president. interim and vice-president for academic affairs.
“The center is deeply rooted, like the acacia, because the work in applied behavioral analysis will produce a double benefit: one for our students who receive their diplomas and the courses and the academic preparation in applied behavioral analysis, and for the children of our community served by the center, âshe said. “An environment of perseverance and adaptability will be harnessed to maximize an individual’s ability to flourish where it is planted.”
The center, planned through a collaboration of the MSSU Lion Cub Academy and the Department of Psychology, is located in the former Child Development Center at Taylor Hall. It was funded by grants and donations from the Missouri Department of Social Services, the Freeman Health System, the Ozark Center, and the MoExcels initiative from the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.
MoExcels provides annual funding for the development and expansion of employer-led education and training programs and initiatives to dramatically increase educational attainment, according to the Higher Education Department of the State.
âWe think this facility is really close to the heart of MoExcels as it not only deals with the preparation of clinicians who will care for people with autism, but will also lead to the empowerment of these people so that their capacities are maximized and their opportunities . are increased, âsaid Gary Nodler, former Joplin State Senator and current member of the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education.
The public is invited to visit the center during an open house from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday. Learn more about acaciacenter.mssu.edu.