HOMEWOOD, AL (WBRC) - What started as a handful of infants in a church nursery years ago, has blossomed into a thriving early intervention program in Birmingham.
The Bell Center, based in Homewood, works with children from infancy to age three who are at risk for developmental delay, either from a medical diagnosis or even just being born premature.
"We provide services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapies and early childhood special education to infants and toddlers," explains Kelly Peoples of the Bell Center.
The program started inside Trinity Methodist church and quickly grew.
"Betty Bell started with several, about three babies in a Sunday school room at Trinity United Methodist church years and years ago. As things progressed it was Betty and four babies, and Betty and five babies and then they knocked down a wall so she could have two Sunday school rooms as the need kept growing," explains Kelly.
That need continued to grow, and the program expanded to offer physical therapy and occupational therapy and more, eventually moving into their own building on 29th court south.
Now the program has even outgrown that space, and they are in the process of building a brand new facility on the site, which will allow for the program to grow even more and offer more accommodating facilities for the children.
"It will have halls big enough so two children in wheelchairs or on walkers can pass each other," explains Kelly.
29th Court South will be shut down Saturday August 25th for the Bell Center's 10th annual Tailgate Challenge. It's a fundraising event that helps pay for the daily operational expenses, as well special devices or services the children may need.
"We are very excited about it. We always have it the sat right before football season starts so everyone is gearing up for football. We will have tents that line up the street," says Kelly.
It's a competition of food, and team spirit. 30 tents representing 30 teams will be set up, each with food and some with drinks. From Auburn and Alabama to Kentucky and LSU, there will be a team for everyone.
"Some are alumni groups, some are just friends and family who put together these tents and they are going to have food and some will have drinks and you can go through and taste," says Kelly. "It's a competition, they are going to judged on best food and drink, best team spirit and best all around and the people's choice awards."
The tailgating challenge runs from 11am until 2pm on Saturday August 25th. Tickets are $20 for adults, kids 12 and under are free. It's a family friendly event too. All proceeds will benefit the Bell Center.
"There is a kid zone, it's family friendly, and we just want everyone to come and have a good time," says Kelly.