Room to grow for A-Kids-Choice

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A-Kids-Choice Foundation Founder Denise Bankston (right) and Linda Mitchell, Bossier Parish Elementary Supervisor Coordinator, inspect the foundation’s new office in downtown Shreveport.

Foundation opens new education center, plans to expand services to the Ark-La-Tex

Walking through the renovated building at 216 Texas Street had Denise Bankston in tears.

The building in downtown Shreveport has, literally, been transformed from top to bottom in just a matter of months. The once gloomy space is now home to A-Kids-Choice Foundation Educational Services, set in a warm, inviting atmosphere with vibrant decor that matches the character that Bankston, known as DeeDee, exudes.

A-Kids-Choice Foundation was formed in 2010 as an outreach program to give local educators more knowledge and skills on educating students with learning differences. Bankston’s journey, however, began long before when her son, JT, was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia in the third grade.

Bankston spent 12 years searching for answers and a way to help her child achieve academic success.

She would eventually find her answer at The Landmark School in Boston, Mass., which specializes in helping students with students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities (LBLD).

JT went on to graduate from The Landmark School in 2005 and obtain a college degree in 2010. Bankston returned to Bossier with a promise to help and encourage other families who may be struggling to find their answer.

Since 2010, A-Kids-Choice has provided priceless educational opportunities for thousands of students in the Bossier Parish school system. Educators are sent annually to The Landmark Schools Outreach Summer Program to train and bring back newfound knowledge and skills to their fellow educators in order to spread those tools across school system, ultimately helping all students – with or without learning differences.

A-Kids-Choice Foundation Educational Services will open the door for more students in the Ark-La-Tex. Kim Slack, director of the educational center and former Bossier Parish educator, said the multifaceted center is already serving more than 20 students.

“We are working hard to break down language barriers,” Slack said. “We assess each student to determine the path and program that will specifically work for them and we move along at their pace. Our goal is ensuring each student gains academic success.”

A-Kids-Choice Foundation Educational Services will also be a place for parents to educate themselves on ways they can advocate for their children. Bankston hopes to form a support group for parents early in the new year.

It’s this network of people that will make the future brighter for more students.

“This is the future. We’re taking it one day at a time and one student at a time,” Bankston said. “There’s still plenty more to come from us.”