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Rachel Bussey
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September 18, 2019
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Pride of the Prairie Part 3: Anne Carlsen Center

On November 4, 1915, a girl was born in Wisconsin without forearms or lower legs. Despite her enormous physical challenges, she grew into a strong young woman who was determined to achieve her dreams. She learned to swim, play baseball and participate in other games with childhood friends. She had tremendous support from her family who encouraged her to complete her education. Her father once told her, “…two arms and two legs missing aren’t as important as one head that’s present.” Those words lit a fire in Anne Carlsen. She embraced learning, sometimes completing two grade levels at a time. Despite a long hospitalization after surgery for her condition, she graduated high school at the age of 16.

Editor's Note: This is the third and final installment of our Jamestown Client Spotlight. We hope you've enjoyed learning more about these cornerstone businesses, as well as getting a bit more insight into Jamestown, North Dakota. This week's spotlight shines on the amazing Ann Carlsen Center, so read on!

Anne Carlsen Center: Nurturing Abilities, Changing Lives

Anne longed to become a teacher, and while she had glowing references and excellent transcripts, she had a hard time getting hired during the Depression era. She also encountered discrimination due to her physical disabilities. Her luck changed in 1938 when she accepted a high school teaching job at Fargo’s Good Samaritan School for Crippled Children.

In 1941, the school moved to Jamestown. Anne pursued a doctorate in education and went on to become the school’s principal and then administrator in 1950 – a position she held until her retirement in 1981. In her honor, the school was renamed to the Anne Carlsen School, and eventually became the Anne Carlsen Center to better reflect its broader scope of services.

When the school first opened, it was intended to help children with physical disabilities. Services eventually expanded to assist with speech therapy and hearing impairment. In the 1980s, it was equipped to help young people with multiple severe disabilities. A therapeutic swimming pool and whirlpool were added to provide physical, recreational and social therapy, and services were added to assist children with autism. In the 1990s, an Advanced Care Unit was opened to provide state-of-the-art medical care and skilled personnel for medically fragile children.Anne-Carlsen-Center

Today, the Anne Carlsen Center is in the midst of some amazing growth. It went from serving 250 individuals in 2009 to over 4,000 individuals yearly in its eight community-based sites that operate in North Dakota and Minnesota. As a regional resource, the Center has touched the lives of people from every county in North Dakota and continues to expand to meet the needs of families, schools and communities. It has positioned itself on the cutting edge of innovation with unique programs, creative therapies and advanced assistive technologies that provide life-changing programming to those it serves.

For over 75 years, the Anne Carlsen Center has nurtured abilities through an unmatched determination to be a voice for those with disabilities – an approach that has already changed so many lives for the better. Committed to making the world a more inclusive place where independence is a gift to all, the Center’s services are closer than you think, doing more than you know.

A Collaborative Community
Jamestown – the Pride of the Prairie – is more than a tourism hub for people seeking historical landmarks and outdoor adventure. It is a community of hardworking, intellectual and compassionate people who are committed to helping others. Newman Signs, the University of Jamestown and the Anne Carlsen Center are active examples of this supportive mentality. All three contribute to each other’s success by working together in a number of ways. Kari Newman-Ness sits on the UJ Board of Trustees. UJ President Polly Petersen sits on the Anne Carlsen Board. Both Newman Signs and the Anne Carlsen Center employ UJ students and alumni. They attend each other’s fundraisers and public events. They have built a collaborative community that truly benefits everyone.

SilverStone Group proudly assists these three with their group benefit needs. We also provide retirement consulting services to the University of Jamestown. We value our partnerships throughout this region and know we will continue to see more great things from Jamestown.

This article originally appeared in the 2019 | ISSUE TWO of the SilverLink magazine, under the title “Pride of the Prairie | Jamestown, North Dakota.” To receive a complimentary subscription to the SilverLink magazine, sign up here.

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