LifeScape’s newly proposed building helps solve ongoing space and workforce issues

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LifeScape announced plans for a major new facility at the University of South Dakota Discovery District. Part of the partnership includes training more therapists to meet the growing demand of the services LifeScape provides for children and adults with disabilities.

“We have a space constraint, but we also have a workforce constraint, so part of our vision was, how can we solve that as we go forward?” LifeScape CEO Steve Watkins said.

Their solution is the proposed 200,000 square foot facility in northern Sioux Falls that would help centralize and expand all of LifeScape’s services for children with disabilities while also making it easier for students at USD to join the growing therapy field. 

“The idea of us coming together to be able to put a program together that would create the therapists that we need,” Watkins said.

“I’ve been working with LifeScape for the past six years and we’ve grown a lot in that time, our therapy department alone has grown seemingly exponentially,” LifeScape Occupational Therapist Alex Schema said. 

Schema knows this new facility will help meet the growing need in the Sioux Falls Area.

“Having the space that we need to provide the care for these kids would be phenomenal,” Schema said.

“As of now, virtually every one of our services has demand greater than we can meet,” Watkins said.

Watkins says as Sioux Falls grows, the demand for LifeScape’s services will get even greater, especially with the rise in behavioral disabilities.

“One in six kids are born with a disability and one in 59 is born with autism,” Watkins said.

He says this new facility would incorporate therapies our region has never had before.

“We’re trying to bring new things to the table like a zero entry therapy pool and maybe a secondary pool that would bring some unique therapies to the region that you would have to go to Denver to get now,” Watkins said.

He said one of the key new concepts the new facility would incorporate is a program called Easy Street, designed to help children who have suffered brain trauma from accidents or illnesses, re-learn how to do some common tasks.  It’s just one example of the kind of innovative care many families are looking for right where they live.

“As we’re trying to attract families to South Dakota and we don’t have those services available, we’re not going to be able to grow the community like we want to,” Watkins said.

“It takes a village to raise every kid, especially in helping children with disabilities, it takes a team and collaboration,” Schema said.

The proposed $62 million facility would bring that team all to one place, eventually replacing the 26th Street and 18th Street LifeScape facilities. But Watkins says the existing buildings will still be utilized for years. Right now the new project is still in its very early stages; the next step is raising funds to help make the project a reality. 

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