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New children’s center will be built on Shawnee Mission Medical Center campus

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MERRIAM, Kan. -- A center that has helped thousands of area children with special needs will get a new home. Plans were announced Tuesday for a new children's center on the Shawnee Mission Medical Center campus.

Harlie Morgan had seizures, one after another, as a baby.

"By the time we got her seizures stopped, she was just developmentally behind, basically," said her mother, Tori Morgan.

But Harlie hasn't been left behind since coming to the Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center. The four-year-old attends the preschool for children with and without special needs, and she receives all of her therapy at the center.

Harlie is one of about 200 little ones with special needs who are served by the center on the medical center campus.

"They come from all over, an hour and a half drive in any direction, looking for the support that our therapists and teachers can provide," said the director, Amy Milroy.

At any one time, 30 families are waiting to get their children into the program.

"We have limited classroom space, we have limited storage, the technology is not where it needs to be," said Milroy.

The center has been in the same building since the late 1970s. On Tuesday, plans were announced for a new B.E. Smith Children's Center on the
Shawnee Mission campus. It will include a new home for the Britain Center. The lead gift of an undisclosed amount came from Doug and Nan Smith. The center will be named for his father, the founder of a health care executive search firm.

Harlie's mom knows Harlie will likely be too old to still attend by the time the new center opens.

"It's great for the other kids 'cause I know this has been a huge game changer in our lives," said Morgan.

The hope is to raise $15 million in additional funds and get construction started within two years. The center will also house the early learning center for children of the medical center's employees and doctors.

Supporters can make a contribution here.