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History of the Wheat Ridge Regional Center

 

The Wheat Ridge Regional Center officially opened on July 1, 1912. When the facility was first opened there were 43 boys and 37 girls admitted with 80 technicians charged to care for them. There was a restriction that only children between five and fourteen could be admitted. During the 30's the institution grew to 200 with a waiting list of fifty.

 

In 1951 the census for WRRC grew to a population of 350, ranging from three months to 70 years of age. The administration of the school included a physical plant, farm and dairy with assets of $1,500,00.00. Ridge was no longer a "retention home" for the mentally retarded but was seen as a rehabilitation and training facility. Also during the 1950's the facility grew. There was actually a principal and 12 staff, including 2 speech therapist, 8 teachers, 1 recreational supervisor and an aide. A full maintenance department and many employees were needed to run the dairy and farm. Between 1957 - 1958, twelve individuals were discharged and 9 returned to community living with their families. Ridge also had several residents who had full or part time jobs in the community.

 

During the 60's and 70's the institution continued to grow and change. The census at the end of 1963 was 929. The agency had a barbershop, beauty shop, canteen and sewing room. Many community groups helped out so that the facility was able to raise money for camps and other needs.

 

In the 80's the philosophy of services for people with developmental disabilities had changed to looking at more community based services. Ridge was given funds to build 14 new group homes off the main campus in the community. Also, Ridge began to downsize it's population in the 80's and 90's. The downsizing was a direct link to many of the Community Center Boards offering smaller, more individualized settings for the developmentally disabled.

 

The emphasis now, in today's day and age, is for the residents of WRRC is to focus on individualized programs to assist them in reaching their own goals. Overall many residents and their families are very happy with the care and services that they receive at WRRC. Ridge provides three day program areas for the individuals we serve; a site in the community provides residents with pre-vocational training as well as individual therapies, another site in the community where people with DD learn physical work tasks (such as sorting, stocking, etc) and for those who are a risk to themselves and others we have a day program area on campus. The reason for many of the residents success is the dedicated staff that work for the agency. Countless staff have retired from Ridge with 20 - 30 years of direct services to the individuals who live here.