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New Occupational Therapy location opening in Macon County 

After successfully serving the Murphy area since 2017, Kids in Stride, a full-service occupational therapy provider, has expanded operations to open a Franklin, NC location. 

Kids in Stride, which is owned and operated by Elizabeth Ference, offers a variety of therapeutic skilled services including Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapies that focus on gaining independence for the child and the family. If a child is having difficulty with cognitive, physical, sensory and motor skills, Kids in Stride services are designed to help. Ference said she wanted to expand the Cherokee County location to better serve families in Western North Carolina. 

“Well everything was simply word of mouth,” Ference said when asked why she made the decision to expand operations. “I have several colleagues and friends that live in the Franklin area, all who have such wonderful things to say about the community and their support for one another. We have had our clinic in Murphy since 2017 which was opened with hopes to provide Occupational, Speech and Physical Therapy to the pediatric population in a community that was in need. During our journey, we have had several children who have come to Murphy from Franklin for services and through conversations with others in the community of Franklin, determined that there was a need there also. The community support previously mentioned has been shown by the town of Franklin, and for that, we are very thankful. We hope to reach as many kids and families as we can.”

With the help of Malia Proveaux, Ference began the search for a location in Macon County. 

“I live here in Franklin, and this has been a dream of mine for many years,” said Malia Proveaux. “I had worked at Macon Valley Nursing for several years and was even the director of rehab there for about 18 months, before returning to college to attain my master’s degree. While I was a student, I completed my clinical internship in Murphy with Elizabeth. During conversation, I mentioned that I wanted to open a clinic in Franklin one day. I wanted our hometown to have the same opportunities that Kids in Stride (KIS) offered in Murphy. I felt like our children deserved to get the services they needed without having to drive an hour to receive them. The conversations took off after Elizabeth stated she had thought about expanding to Franklin. Everything started to take form in September when I met the owners in Franklin to search out possible locations for the clinic.”

Proveaux, who serves as an OT and Manager of the new Franklin location, said she mostly joking at the end of the search when she mentioned the former Willie’s BBQ building being for sale. 

“Since we were close, we drove by and looked in the windows. To our surprise the owner came out and gave us a tour of the restaurant,” said Proveaux. “She mentioned that she wanted to retire, and she seemed excited about our “plans”. We completed renovations and opened in June.  I have been amazed at the support and acceptance we have received from our neighboring businesses like, Danny Antoine’s Martial Arts Studio and Home Care Specialist in the Mountains.”

Proveaux has over 16 years of experience as an OT and worked under Ference to complete her Level II fieldwork for her Master’s Degree. In addition to Proveaux, the Franklin Kids in Stride office employs Devan Carter, a local to the area who completed her master’s at Western Carolina University as a Speech Language Pathologist in 2018. The team will be complete soon when the physical therapist position is finalized. 

“Our positions require a Doctor’s referral in order to provide services,” said Ference. “Once we receive the referral the insurance is verified and the family is called. We set up an initial evaluation with the child and therapist, which includes assessing the child for developmental delays and concerns that warranted interest in our profession. Then a treatment plan is determined by clinical determination and parent’s/caregivers input. The child is then scheduled for services with a frequency of treatment based on need.”

According to Ference, much of what she does within her profession is educating the general public on the benefits of Occupational Therapy and the wide range of services that fall under the umbrella. 

“Most people do not know what Occupational Therapy is, so in a nutshell: Occupational Therapy looks at an individual at whatever age and determines if there are any areas that they are behind or developmentally delayed,” said Ference. “Most people do not know that this can include sensory processing delays and concerns for what sometimes gets misclassified as “behaviors”. Once the need is determined, we collaborate with the caregivers/parents, provide education and treat the underlying condition/concerns so that we can increase a child’s independence with a variety of activities ranging from emotional regulation and learning disabilities to functional ability to perform daily tasks within home, community, social interactions and/or with recreational activities. If you feel like your child is “always getting into trouble” or is struggling with “daily activities”, it may be worth it to get assessed by an Occupational Therapist.”

According to Ference, Speech Therapists work on a variety of speech/communication-related tasks, no just sounding out words (which is very important!). They also work on speech and language concerns including but not limited to cognitive and/or social communication. If you feel like your child “just doesn’t listen”, it may be worth getting them assessed for auditory processing delays by a Speech Therapist.

“Physical therapists work on any limitations in movement, balance, physical pain and/or coordination that may be affecting a variety of daily tasks, meeting the needs of the child at their point of development,” she said. “If you feel like your child “is very clumsy”, “is always falling down” or is not moving like other children their age, it may be worth it to get them assessed by a Physical Therapist.”

Ference said the new facility is currently accepting new patients and referrals are beginning to roll in from area doctors. 

“We hope to reach as many children/families as possible who are in need of our services because we believe in what we do and have a genuine interest in sharing it with others,” said said. “We have seen the changes in family’s lives when they are given the tools to succeed. We believe that collaboration with the family’s/caregivers is very important and love sharing information and training for how to apply what we know as professionals, within their daily lives, so that the child and family can “be in stride”.”

For more information visit the Kids in Stride website at or call the Franklin Office at 828-634-7800.

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