EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. – A special education teacher in Excelsior Springs is working to better the lives of children with autism and their families.
Inside a three-story house on Magnolia Avenue, work is underway to transform an old space into something special.
“I have big dreams for Shannon’s House,” Tracy Lynn said. “My hope is that we are able to help families that are on the brink of residential placement.”
Lynn is the CEO and founder of Shannon’s House, a planned $1.5 million safe haven for children with autism.
“There are too many families that are at that place that they want their child to stay home, but until they get resources, they don’t feel like they have any options,” she said.
Lynn had a brother, Shannon, who had developmental delays and behavioral problems. It got so bad that Lynn’s parents made the hard decision to place Shannon in a care facility. It was either that or put her sister up for adoption.
“He was an extremely difficult child to try and keep safe in the home,” Lynn said. “He would climb out of windows, climb on furniture, get inside appliances. He never stopped moving, never rested. It was a 24-hour day job.”
Lynn hit a breaking point two years ago when she heard a similar story from a mom, facing the same tough decision.
“It was in that moment I said, ‘I have to do something,’” she recalled. “’I have to take this concept and get these resources into the home.’”
Shannon’s House will hold eight bedrooms, a theater, climbing walls, swings, slides, a firepit and splash pad and oasis for parents. Once completed, the idea is for it to serve as a host home while Lynn and her team upgrade the homes of families in need of safety and sensory equipment to accommodate their children with autism.
“We want to make sure they have everything in their home so their child can be safe, and we also want to provide training on how to use those things,” Lynn said.
Volunteers like Brooke Nelson and Ed Gouldsmith, who brings students from the nearby career center along, have been helping with demolition on the house, which began last weekend.
“Just watching Tracy, she’s so passionate. It just makes you want to help her,” Nelson said.
“I know exactly what that can do to families and the hardship it brings, and anything we can do to give back to help others in need is a great thing,” added Gouldsmith, who has a niece with autism.
A carefree place, keeping families together.
Lynn said the goal is to have this home complete by spring 2021, but she added they need money and volunteers to make that happen.