With Support from Variety, Bornhava Continues to Educate and Nurture Children in a Home-like Environment


In 1983, Dave Bower and Barbara Jo Hard established a school for children with special needs. They called their school “Bornhava,” and their goal was to offer a home-like atmosphere where high quality therapeutic and educational interventions could be provided for children with special needs from birth to five years old.  The school’s focus would include meeting the specific needs of the child as well as the needs of other family members.


“Today, 35 years later, Bornhava provides a home-like, loving, and play-based environment to educate and nurture young children with differing abilities,” comments Donna Ringholz, Executive Director for Bornhava. “Bornhava is committed to excellence, support for individual growth, and dedication to building a foundation for each child’s future.”


Bornhava welcomes more than 500 children and their families annually in Erie and Niagara Counties.  Each child receives personalized attention catering to their strengths and areas for improvement. Individualized intervention plans are developed for children with intellectual and physical challenges, sensory deficits, communication delays, and various developmental disabilities.  Bornhava operates a main school in Snyder, NY and five integrated classrooms across Western New York (two day care centers and three Head Starts).


Bornhava’s services include evaluations, special education, counseling, and family training as well as occupational therapy, speech and language, and physical therapies.  Children from birth to three years old receive services through the Early Intervention Program – a comprehensive, goal oriented plan of therapies and education.


Facilitating parent-to-parent contact, providing informational sessions with professionals, and supporting the caregivers’ role in working with other team members are all important aspects of early intervention at Bornhava.  Bornhava’s developmental group meets Monday through Thursday 9:00am – 11:30am.


When a child turns three, their needs are addressed through the development of an Individual Education Plan (IEP).  From ages three to five, the Committee on Preschool Education in local school districts collaborates with caregivers and families to determine what comprehensive services will continue to enhance the child’s developmental progress.  


Bornhava’s center-based program currently has four preschool classrooms and focuses on development of motor skills, cognition, communication, social interaction, and growing independence.  Each preschool classroom is staffed by a certified special education instructor, three teacher’s assistants, and therapy providers. Special therapies and educational services are also provided through Bornhava staff to children in their own homes or in other community settings.  Center-based program preschool classes are available Monday through Friday 9:00am-2:30pm.


Bornhava offers two groups for parents and caregivers for children with special needs.   The Men’s Forum is a group for men who care for a child with special needs. It began in 2004 and meets once a month on Tuesday nights at 7:30pm.  The group, led by a licensed child psychologist, has ongoing discussions about what caregivers are doing for their children and how to access additional services or resources.  The success of the Men’s Forum lead to the formation of Wow Moms! in 2009. Wow Moms! is open to all women who care for a child with special needs. The group is facilitated by a Bornhava social worker and meets once a month.


The group meetings may include a presentation or discussion by those women who attend around a particular topic.  Past topics of discussion have included Community Resources/Helpful Organizations, Time Management Strategies, How to Organize Your Child’s Information, and Transition Planning. Bornhava also offers DIR (Developmental, Individual-differences & Relationship-based Model of Treatment) workshops at Chateau Terrace.  These workshops are open to all caregivers of children with developmental disabilities and professionals.

Variety Buffalo has been a long-time supporter of Bornhava.  In the past decade, Variety has contributed over $47,000 to Bornhava in the form of donations, grants, and equipment to better the lives of their students.  

While Bornhava appreciates the monetary support, they truly value the commitment of the Variety volunteers lending a helping hand at Bornhava’s annual Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Fall Festival events.  Bornhava also gives back to Variety and provides volunteers for the Annual Variety Club Telethon, Car Raffle, and Variety Booth at the Erie County Fair. Bornhava has also hosted an appreciation luncheon at their facility for Variety volunteers.  

Every year Bornhava submits a grant request for support to Variety.  Typically, they ask for new equipment, furniture, and toys due to wear and tear from the students at school and at their homes.  In 2017, thanks to Variety supporters, Variety provided new sound sponge dividers, tables, chairs, mirrors, and language scales to Bornhava.  Each child has specific needs that Bornhava caters to, and the new equipment empowers these children to succeed while learning. In addition to providing resources for Bornhava classrooms, Variety has also funded the creation of a Family Room for meetings and counseling sessions; the Adventure Room, where the students have physical and occupational therapy with specialized equipment; and an audiology booth, which the Bornhava teachers painted to be warm and welcoming, for speech and hearing therapy.  The awning covering the front entrance and the playground in the backyard was donated to Bornhava from Variety.

The Variety Women of Tent #7 sponsored a brick that is found in the front walkway as a symbol of their dedication and compassion towards Bornhava, their mission, and the WNY children and families served by its programming.  Variety’s legacy is permanently displayed for the WNY community to see when they enter this warm and supportive organization.

If you are looking for more information on Bornhava contact (716) 839-1655 or email [email protected]