By Dustin Luca
---- — ANDOVER — A private school with long-standing roots in the region will be honored by the Boston Red Sox tonight for their dedication to and work with children with disabilities.
The Professional Center for Child Development, with 40 years in Andover and approaching 20 years in Lawrence, will be honored by the Red Sox as part of the team’s annual Disability Awareness Night prior to tonight’s 6:35 p.m. start against the Oakland Athletics.
The Professional Center works with students who “have experienced some developmental delays” in their development and require specialized attention when it comes to schooling, according to Executive Director Veryl Anderson.
The Professional Center offers a number of programs ranging from preschool and developmental day school to private therapy and early intervention programming.
It opened in 1973 at Christ Church in Andover and, within three years, more than doubled in size. The school moved to its current home on Osgood Street in 1986 and opened a new facility on Parker Street in Lawrence in 1994.
With close ties to the team, Community Liaison Ellen Waddill said the school is “really excited that the Red Sox have chosen to honor us.”
Many of the school’s 1,500 annually registered children “are involved in children’s hospitals in the Boston area medical centers,” Anderson said. “They come into contact with the Red Sox players, coaches, and it spills into the community.”
But to a certain extent, with last week’s events at the Boston Marathon, there’s a much closer connection to the Boston sports culture, according to Anderson.
“It’s pretty much in the front of people’s minds that these runners, some of them — and some of the spectators — will be disabled by their injuries,” she said. “It’s important for us to all recognize that anyone can have a disability, whether you’re born with it, whether you had an accident, whether you have a disease, and that we all need to be able to cooperate and live together, and help each other.”
For Andover resident Mary Moossa-Jurek, who’s daughter Emmy graduated from The Professional Center 15 years ago, the chance to see the program put in the public spotlight — and with the Red Sox — is an opportunity that can’t be passed up.
“There isn’t enough support out there,” she said. “What they get here is not just love and care, but the opportunity to communicate and to expand their world in other ways. We want everyone to know about this place.”
To be honored at the game, the non-profit was nominated from within the community, Waddill said. They will be one of four agencies or individuals featured before tomorrow night’s game.
Anderson will represent the The Professional Center at Fenway along with North Andover resident Kelly Gilbert and her 6-year-old son Bobby, an early intervention student at the school.