The Queens Center for Progress was originally founded in 1950 as the United Cerebral Palsy of Queens for parents with children with cerebral palsy, however now the center has expanded to address all persons with both physical and mental impairments.
Last week, more than 100 children enrolled in the Apple children’s center on 164th Street, took part in dozens of Disney-themed activities with caretakers and volunteers.
Mary Hollenbeck, an occupational therapist and organizer of the QCP carnival, helped coordinate the event.
“You can go into a castle and build a crown, you can make snow because we have Frozen featured, you have a carriage ride in the castle, and at the end you get your treasure and get your new pair of sneakers,” Hollenback said, explaining that private donors contributed new sneakers for every child enrolled in the program.
Previously the center has celebrated the annual event with a luau, zoo and Sesame Street-themed carnivals, as well.
Nancy Glass, director of the children’s center, said QCP particularly specializes in caring for kids with more serious disabilities.
“We have excellent services,” Glass said. “Our staff, most of them have been here 20 years or more, and they are very experienced and caring.”
Charles Houston, executive director of QCP, said that while the center has grown over the last half-century, the original mission is still the same.
“When you can make learning fun, it’s always a good thing,” Houston said. “You can see the kids faces light up when they come in and it’s just a chance for them to do some of the things we work on every day, physical skills and muscle control, and we can make it fun.”