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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Children’s Village Volunteers 2018

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Early Learning Center at Children’s Village

On November 15, 2018, J.J., Jessey, and Matthew visited the Early Learning Center at Children’s Village while their parents took their siblings to various appointments.  Matthew was content to simply wander around the back of the room and play with different toys, while J.J. and Jessey hung out at the table and talked with Stacy, the child care supervisor.  At first, Jessey was quiet and pensive and didn’t want to do much, but eventually decided to build a structure with the magnetic blocks.

            Meanwhile, J.J. was solving a jigsaw puzzle that had dinosaurs on it and talking to Stacy about her love for the “Land Before Time” series.  She even told Stacy that she once had a dream that she was a long-neck like Little Foot.  When Jessey left to go with his parents, J.J. took over the construction of the building that Jessey had started.  She put her baby doll inside and built walls around her.  Stacy was a good sport and played along when J.J. told her that the baby doll was taking a nap, even apologizing when she spoke “too loudly” and J.J. had to shush her.

            This experience shows how accepting and non-judgmental the childcare staff are and how understanding they are to the different dispositions of the children.  The Early Learning Center is a special place at Children’s Village for children and their siblings

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Dalia’s Day at the Village

 On November 11, 2018, Christine and her daughter Dahlia arrived at Children’s Village. They were going to see Alison for Dahlia’s physical therapy.  Dahlia is eleven years old and has cerebral palsy.  When they came to Alison’s office, she greeted them with a nice, loud voice, displaying enthusiasm and excitement at catching up with the family.

                During the appointment, Alison did an excellent job at explaining things to Dahlia in a way that she understood.  For instance, when Dahlia and her mother asked, Alison demonstrated some of the exercises that she had been having Dahlia practice and why each one was effective for strengthening her legs.  Alison was also very personal and friendly with Dahlia; she remembered with her mother when Dahlia first came into her office at the age of 1 ½.  She was good-humored and not stern with Dahlia when she and her mother admitted to her forgetting to wear her brace the night before, while still emphasizing that the brace was important to wear.

                Lastly, Alison was able to get Dahlia excited about changing braces for surgery.  Dahlia liked the fact that she had several choices.  The three braces she picked were a brace with a galaxy pattern on it, a brace with cats, and a solid yellow brace.

                Alison is an example of the patience and compassion that Village staff have for the children who come in.  They go out of their way to make the children feel good about themselves, even on days where they feel anxious and unsure.   At the same time, they make sure to explain what needs to be addressed in a way that makes children comfortable and excited about being at the Village.   

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Yakima – Orthotic help for special needs children…

Because of your generosity, children with special equipment needs in our community are receiving the help they need. Through the Pediatric Therapy Services Program at Children’s Village, the physical therapist team has processed over 200 ankle foot orthotic orders to help 155 individual children! To put that into perspective, last year in 2017, we only processed 132 total orders. With a couple of months remaining in the year, we have already exceeded last year’s numbers! Thank you for your continued support, you’re making a difference right here in our community!

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Shealynn’s Visit to the Village

On October 23, 2018, Katrina Silva took her almost five-year-old daughter, Shealynn, to see Dottie, her speech therapist. When Shealynn was one month old, she was diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome. This was when the Silvas first found out about the Village.

When Dottie came out of her office door, she had the biggest smile on her face and Shealynn’s favorite game, “Pop-Up Pirate” clutched in her arm. She shook Shealynn’s and her mom’s hands and invited them in, calling Shealynn her “little friend”. Shealynn and her mom were very excited to see and work with Dottie. Shaelynn was especially excited to tell Dottie about her new toy kitty, that she had also named Dottie. It was rainbow-colored with polka-dots. Shealynn’s mom added, “Yep, not two seconds after getting into the car, she said, ‘His name is Dottie’”.

During the appointment, Shealynn’s mom showed Dottie laminated charts with phrases on them and had Shealynn show off to Dottie the improvement she had made in her speech since the last time they met. Dottie used Pop-Up Pirate as both a motivation/reward for Shealynn after she went through each chart and also a fun way to help Shealynn practice speaking her “P’s” and “S’s” clearly (“I would like a blue sword, please.”). After the appointment, Dottie praised Shealynn on the improvements she had made and encouraged her on the areas yet to improve on.

Dottie is a wonderful example of what therapists at Children’s Village are like. They are friendly and personal with the children and enthusiastic when the children come in. They are willing to lend a listening ear when the children have something to tell them. However, they are also professional with their job; they will let the children know the areas that they need to improve on and will encourage and help them, every step of the way, to meet their goals.

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