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Children’s Village Staff Share The Love

Sharing the love for Valentine’s Day, Children’s Village staff joined to collect more than 128 pounds of non-perishable food for the local food bank. New CEO Laura Crooks initiated this effort, saying “We know that food banks can often get generous donations of food during the holidays, especially around Christmas, but as the year goes on, those stocks diminish, and yet there are still so many in need of food. What a better way to share the love with our community than by sharing a full (or fuller) belly…. since some say love is where the stomach is!”
To learn how your team can help, go to Northwestharvest.org.

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Read the full story Hear » 

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Mi Trayecto a Holanda

Cuando usted vive en un tiempo cuando todos los ojos están en usted, todo el mundo tiene una opinión a pesar de que no están en su situación, es muy fácil sentirse aislado, juzgado, y perdido cuando usted está caminando un trayecto que no sólo es desafiante, sino también nuevo para usted. Tuve la suerte de que cuando me sentía aislada, juzgada y perdida me encontré con un grupo de individuos que no sólo estaban caminando una trayectoria similar, eran también tan amables, aceptables, comprensivos y estaban sufriendo y sanando como yo.

Este grupo de padres con facilitadores del Programa Padre a Padre de La Aldea de Niños (Children’s Village) de Yakima llamado grupo de Holanda (Holland Group), en ese grupo de padres todos estábamos un poco agobiados por la vida y ambos fuimos dotados con la oportunidad de amar, criar y cuidar de un niño (s) muy especial (es).  Allí es donde encontré un poco de orientación, con mucho apoyo, amor y comprensión. Por primera vez en aproximadamente un año y medio me sentí entendida, me sentí escuchada, y me sentí querida. Nos hemos reunido en apoyo de las dificultades de cada uno, compartiendo experiencias, y nos animamos mutuamente de una manera que uno nunca esperaría de un grupo de extraños que al final de ocho semanas llamarías orgullosamente  tus amigos.

Compartiendo las experiencias de criar a nuestros hijos, en un ambiente seguro, con gente que simplemente “lo entiende”, donde se puede hablar libremente sobre sus desafíos, preocupaciones, y reír en la celebración de sus victorias grandes o pequeñas. Holanda (Holland) fue donde finalmente empecé mi proceso de sanación, aprendí a aceptar el diagnóstico de mi hijo, aprendí a ser amable con mi misma y aprendí el poder de tener tu Aldea contigo.  Ánimo encarecidamente a cualquier persona que tenga que aprender a lidiar con su ser querido con necesidades especiales, que aprovechen de un  ambiente seguro y lleno de apoyo del grupo Holanda (Holland), lo que obtendrás podría ser más que lo que esperas.

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My Journey to Holland By Alma Balderas

When you live in a time where all eyes are on you and everyone has an opinion, even though they are not in your situation, it is very easy to feel isolated, judged and lost when you are walking a journey that is not only challenging but also new to you. I was fortunate enough that when I was feeling isolated, judged and lost I found a group of individuals who were not only walking a similar journey, they were also so kind, accepting, understanding and were hurting and healing as I was.

This group of parents, with facilitators from Parent to Parent/Children’s Village, is called Holland- Where we all had been a little blindsided by life and were Gifted the opportunity to love, parent and care for a very special child (ren).  There is where I found a bit of guidance, A LOT of support, love and understanding. For the first time in about a year and half I felt understood, I felt heard, and I felt loved. We rallied around each other’s struggles, sharing experiences, and encouraged each other in a way you’d never expect from a group of strangers whom at the end of eight weeks you’d proudly call friends.

Sharing the experiences of parenting our children, in a safe environment, with folks who simply “get it”, where you can talk freely about your challenges, worries, and laugh in celebration of your victories, big or small. Holland was where I finally began my healing process, learned to accept my son’s diagnosis, learned to be kind to myself and learned the power of having your Village with you.  I highly encourage anyone who is having to learn to deal with their loved one with special needs, to take advantage of the  safe and supportive environment of a Holland group… what you get out of it might just be more than you’d ever expected.

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Rhys was born after our 3rd round of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and his twin passed early on in my pregnancy. There were no signs of complications until a few days before his birth when I developed pre-eclampsia. When Rhys was born his head measured small and he was diagnosed with Microcephaly at about 3 months of age. At about a year old an MRI scan diagnosed his Schizencephaly, which is an extremely rare brain malformation. At about age 3 years old,  Rhys was also diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

Rhys began receiving services at about 6 months of age and he grew to love all of his therapists immensely. When we graduated out of the program we continued with physical, occupational and speech therapy in order to help Rhys make gains in these areas.

At Children’s Village we are lucky enough to have therapists work with Rhys in speech and physical therapy and hippotherapy. It’s also very exciting to meet other families at the village and make new friends who understand the journey we are on.

Currently Rhys is 4.5 years old. He is working on balance in order to learn to walk and using his left arm equally to the right. We are working with a speech therapist to get him a device in order to communicate as well. His favorite words right now are “go”, “nope” and “keys”. He’s curious by nature which we know will help him to make strides through his life. With the support we receive through Children’s Village, we know Rhys will live up to his full potential and we are so proud of him. Rhys is sheer joy and happiness radiates out of him wherever he goes. His favorite toys are cars, trucks and motorcycles. He loves to watch Blippi and eat ice cream and fresh berries. He is funny, smart, loving and compassionate. He makes friends easily and loves to make people laugh.

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Christmas Open House 2018

            On December 15, 2018, Children’s Village held its annual Christmas open house.  As the children arrived, they were greeted by “Edward the Elf”, who took pictures with them and referred them over to Santa Claus.  There were also cookies being decorated and a fishing booth for the children coming in.

            On the upper and lower levels, there were Christmas decorations being made including Christmas tree stick puppets and snowflake ornaments.  The staff members were always very helpful in giving instructions in that they were specific enough while at the same time, explaining in a way that the children could understand.  The children were excited and enthusiastic when coming through the doors of the crafting rooms.

            In the snowflake ornament room, the staff members strongly encouraged the children’s creativity.  One boy was very artistic and mixed different colors of glitter glue together.  On the other hand, a set of twins also attended and wanted to put much of the same decorations on their ornaments as the other.  However, they too experimented with different glitter glue, asking themselves and the staff what colors certain combinations would make.

            This holiday experience demonstrates the appreciation the Children’s Village staff members have for individuality and creativity.  It was obvious that the children were made to feel that their ideas and innovation could make something beautiful to be enjoyed by everyone.  Because all of the children there were different from each other (even the twins), no two crafts looked the same, like real snowflakes.  This actually captures the true heart of Children’s Village perfectly.  Everyone’s special, therefore, whatever they create is special as well.

Many thanks to the sponsors and volunteers that made our event possible: Florence Wight Guild, Rob and Tara Mize, one 2 one mentors, Youthworks, Children’s Village volunteers, East Valley Boys Pageant Contestants, Miss Yakima County Royalty and East Valley Royalty, Children’s Village staff and their family members, and of course, ‘Edward’ the Elf and Santa!


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Nikko’s ABA Class

On December 13, 2018, almost three-year-old Nikko and his mother Alma visited Children’s Village.  Nikko has autism and was attending his Applied Behavior Analysis class (ABA).  When they walked through the door of the classroom, they were warmly greeted by behavior technicians Kaecey Lockridge and Omar Luna.

 Throughout class time, Kaecey and Omar helped Nikko practice making eye contact and articulate words.  Nikko practiced the former by rolling a ball to Kaecey while 

looking her in the eye.  As for the latter, Omar and Kaecey praised Nikko just as much for effort as for success.  Sometimes Nikko would articulate words well, but other times it was difficult. Omar would say phrases such as “Good try” or “Love the effort”.  During snack time, Nikko stood at the refrigerator and Omar and Kaecey made him “work” for his snack, as Alma explained, by having him articulate what he wanted, instead of just yelling and having them guess.

Alma observed that Nikko’s social skills, such as sharing, taking turns, and asking for help, had improved within the past six months.  Nikko took turns building stack towers with Kaecey, being able to articulate the phrase “my turn”.  At one point, he got excited and threw his tower down on the ground.  He was about to say and sign “help please” to Omar.

This experience demonstrates an awesome teaching style in the Children’s Village staff.  They praise effort just as much as success.  They realize that children are not going to get it right on the first go, but the staff are patient and encouraging all the way through.  This practice makes the children feel that they are capable of improving and succeeding at what they are trying to accomplish.

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Ernie’s Day at the Village

                On December 4, Aimee and her family nurse brought her eleven year old son and patient, Ernie, to Children’s Village.  Ernie experiences Down syndrome and autism.  He came to the Village for special speech therapy.  Whitney, Ernie’s therapist, had an iPad that spoke words and phrases for Ernie when he pressed the buttons. 

                It was apparent that Ernie was making strides in improving his motor and speech skills.  He took off his coat and shoes by himself, and smiled and waved at the reporter (me) when she said hello to him.  At first, he was shy and reluctant to use the iPad to “verbally” say hello, so he pushed the “Please wait” phrase button a couple of times, but then he decided to push the hello button.  Whitney, Aimee, and the nurse, meanwhile, cheered for him when he used the iPad or sat up straight.

                The three adults in the room patiently waited for Ernie to push a button on the iPad.  Sometimes Ernie would wave his arms and Whitney would gently tell him to stop.  Whitney, Aimee, and the nurse showed great patience and compassion with Ernie that day, providing gentle guidance and support as Ernie found ‘his voice’ on the iPad. This experience demonstrated the patience and gentleness of a Children’s Village therapist. 

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