Reach for the Top: Serving Children and Families Through Positive Growth

When it comes to pediatric therapy, Reach for the Top Therapy Services, the only therapy clinic in the Dover, NH, area offering trauma-informed and neurodiverse-affirming therapies led by six women with lived disability experience, stands out. After a leadership change nearly two years ago and restructuring one year ago last June, the changes have made a significant and positive impact. The current high-performing team, led by Executive Director Amy Rich Crane, continues to prioritize the well-being of children and maintain its mission of providing top-quality care through a family-centered model with twelve specialty programs. 

Innovative Approaches and Positive Impact 

Over the past year, Reach has embraced innovation by further developing established programs as well as introducing new programs that cater to the diverse needs of children in therapy and the Seacoast disability community. Among these are the Sensory Community Garden, a partnership with the Dover Library with donations from the Greenland Lowes, an outdoor therapy group called Branch Out, highlighting the benefits of outdoor play, problem-solving, and connecting to peers in nature, as well as continuing the Aquatics program at a new, supportive location.  

The organization has also recently unveiled a new multi-sensory room for Autistic and neurodivergent children that aligns with the shift from traditional therapy models to ones that accept, empower, and advocate for those with disabilities through relationship and play-based approaches, over more traditional authoritative behavioral approaches. Moreover, Reach has formed a relationship with another community organization, collaborating with Granite State Music Therapy to establish an innovative music therapy group, which will increase Reach’s specialty therapy programs to 15 opportunities and 3 therapy departments, 18 expansive options for Seacoast families by year-end.  

Countless client stories serve as a testament to Reach’s dedication and effectiveness. By highlighting a few of these testimonials, including those from grateful parents, Reach can showcase the profound positive impact it has had on families and children with exceptional needs: 

“Through therapy, I’ve learned a lot about Jack – what his stims are, what helps him and what makes things worse, as well as the ways I can help Jack to grow and thrive using different adaptations. Miss Robyn has taught Jack and I both so much and it’s helped tremendously both at home and out in the community,” said Janyce Legrand, whose son has been attending therapy at Reach for the past two years.  

Amy Shaw, who has two neurodivergent daughters and recently discovered her own neurodivergence, praises Reach’s support to her family. “With the help of professionals like Reach, I was able to keep on fighting the everyday battle and work towards a more bio-psycho-socially healthy family. Reach For The Top not only cares about the children but the entire family unit. I feel supported enough to express my needs and they lovingly support me, even on my bad, barely holding it together days.” 

Community Partnerships and Generous Donations 

One of the organization’s greatest strengths lies in its community, and donations are the driving force behind supporting the clinic’s specialty programs for enriched care. Reach is incredibly grateful for the support it receives from individuals, local businesses, foundations, and the community, in order to carry out its mission and programs. Beyond the generous $10,000 from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for operational support, and the $6,250 grant from Saint Mary’s Bank that is supporting hippotherapy program fees, the themed peer groups, and the new Music Therapy Program, Reach received a notable donation of $2,000 from Rand Whitney, a local Dover business owned by the New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and $1,000 from NESPN television personality, Charlie Moore ‘The Mad Fisherman’. Such contributions from esteemed community members solidify Reach’s reputation and enable it to continue its important work. 

Last year, Reach received close to $200,000 in grants and donations which helped the organization exceed its goals, increasing the number of children and families served to more than 600 and expanding services to 15 programs and initiatives. Fundraising activities remain strong in the current year, as the team prepares to host its first Annual Reach Art Auction this fall, which will highlight art created by children with disabilities during their therapy sessions with their therapists and family. Reach continues to seek new relationships while developing established relationships with businesses and donors that share our values and are moved by the opportunity to empower children with disabilities so they can thrive and further support their families as they advocate for their child’s rights, development, and abilities. 

Investing in the Team’s Education and Expansion 

To further enhance its capacity to serve children and families, Reach recently hired four new therapy practitioners, growing to a 15-strong team. These dedicated professionals bring a wealth of experience, with a combined total of 32 years of serving children and families. Their expertise will contribute to Reach’s continued growth and enable the clinic to meet its target of helping over 700 families this year. 

Additionally, Reach facilitates continuing education for therapists, and one of its biggest commitments over the past year, with changes in personnel and policies, includes continued efforts to fully develop a workplace culture where everyone can thrive and continue to be an employer of choice. The investment of funds into therapeutic skill development, hiring, and training of therapy personnel, administration, and leadership ensures that children can continue to get the high-quality, advanced, and specialized care they deserve from employees whose growth is consistently valued.  

The commitment to hiring and empowering the right team members makes a positive impact on the children and families served, who develop strong therapeutic relationships with their therapy team, as well as on the overall team culture. In fact, 88% of employees report significant improvement in team culture including communication, values, and respect since 2022, and 100% agree with significant improvements following leadership and operational changes implemented at the end of 2021. 

Values and Standards Guide Continuous Improvement 

Moreover, Reach maintains a strong focus on its values and standards while ensuring open communication and collaboration with its team members. The clinic values the input and voice of its employees, further evidenced by the newly established junior leadership program, encouraging contributions and perspectives.  There are certain non-negotiable outcomes that must be met to ensure the organization is successful and meets its financial and community-based goals, but the plan to get there is flexible, tailored to find the win-win for families, employees, and Reach, with clear targets and personal goals for each team member. 

Reach for the Top Therapy continues to empower children and families through new programs, community partnerships, active fundraising, and a dedicated team. With pent-up demand, we continue to seek team members that fit our niche and growth mindset culture, with several opportunities for employment to meet community needs.  The clinic’s ability to overcome challenges felt from our post-pandemic economy, foster trauma-informed and neurodiverse-affirming practices, and maintain a family-centered approach makes it an invaluable resource for the Dover, NH, community. Reach’s vision of transforming lives and reaching new heights is continuously shared through positive impact stories and will continue to guide its journey toward making a lasting impact on children and families in NH.