Focus Group Participants Needed

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The Washington State Department of Health
(DOH) is seeking information from parents
and caregivers of children with nutrition and
growth concerns including where they go for
help, how easy was it to get the help they
needed, and what improvements (if any)
could be made to get their concerns met.
We will be conducting a series of focus
groups (8 to 12 participants per group). It is
estimated that the discussions will last 1 hour
and consist of 10 to 15 questions. Answers
and comments will be anonymous.
As a thank you for your time and
participation, we will provide a stipend. For
childcare please contact Stacy at
509-574-3255. Limited child care is available.
Please pre-register.

If interested in participating please
RSVP with Gloria Urness, Parent to
Parent, at (509) 574-3257 or

Located at: Children’s Village, 3801
Kern Road Yakima, WA 98902
Date: 9/11/2017 from 4:00-5:00PM

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Swimming Towards Milestones!

Big Fish Little Fish Swim Group:

Debbie Sheppard, Children’s Village early intervention therapy services, has discovered an interactive way for children with different needs the opportunity to play, reach milestones, and plain have fun! Swimming!

After attending a summertime pool session with her own grandchildren, Debbie realized that many of the families she works with would not be able to experience typical summertime pool settings. Many children Debbie sees have sensory sensitivities such as to loud sounds, lots of people, bright lights, and different smells and temperatures.

Utilizing the quiet setting and the warmth of the Children’s Village therapy pool, parents are reporting that their children look forward to pool time and are showing increased enjoyment and willingness to participate in songs and activities during each weekly session. The goals are to make milestones in therapy that will help them in their daily routines.

“Playing in the warm therapy pool provides a great opportunity to work on expressive communication skills and motor imitation”, says Debbie. Through music and movement in the water, one little girl is now able to float on her back with her mom’s support and put her head back in the water.

What better place to be on a hot, August day than in the whimsical Children’s Village pool led by fun therapists in a playful environment.

Milestones are being reached in a truly joyful way.

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A Week of Wonder, by Amy Berkheimer

Yakima Area Arboretum offered a Nature Camp to Children’s Village One 2 One recreation program, and it was so much fun!

The first morning each person chose an animal or a plant found in nature, and that is their name while at camp.  It gave us the opportunity to do nature yoga – where each kid made up a yoga pose according to their nature name, and it kept us all laughing.

Central Washington University’s STEM program brought their reptiles for show and tell. Snorkel the tortoise was a huge hit as he traveled around the grounds enjoying the clovers.  Some of the kids were scared at first, but most of them ended up petting the snakes, holding the stick bugs, and touching the bearded dragon.

Throughout the three days of camp, the kids went on nature walks and were able to catch bugs, frogs, and snails!  We collected leaves from the trees while walking and made leaf impressions.  We painted rocks, made fox masks, enjoyed apple chips from Seneca, played games, toured the vegetable garden, learned about the 300,000+ bees that live at the Arboretum, and finished off the week with a slip-n-slide, sprinkler, and popsicles.

A special thank you goes to Yakima Downtown Rotary for their financial support of the Children’s Village Nature Camp.  We couldn’t have done it without you!  

We would also like to thank the staff of the Nature Camp:  Bull Trout, Pika, Flamingo, Cactus, Butterfly and Emu!  They gave our kids a great day-camp experience, while being patient, funny, kind, and a pleasure to hang out with.

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A family’s story


After 2 years of health and normal growth, our pediatrician heard something while listening to our daughter’s heartbeat.  While not alarmed, she did recommend that we run an EKG test just to be sure.  We took our daughter to have the test done.  After not hearing anything back for a month, we assumed that everything had gone fine.  We then received a notice in the mail that we needed to schedule an appointment at Children’s Village.  No parent wants to receive this news.  Nobody wants to see a child’s future put at risk.  My wife and I sweated and worried for three days while we waited.


On the day of the appointment, we watched our daughter have fun at Children’s Village.  The waiting area had lots of activities to keep her occupied.  The nurse took us back to the exam rooms and pointed out the murals and toys to Piper to keep her engaged.  Piper was the one to notice the animal footprints on the ceiling in the exam room.  After a short wait, a brief medical history, and an examination, the specialist informed us that our daughter did have a murmur, but that it was nothing that was affecting her and like her mother, shewould probably grow out of it.  Piper was very excited to be allowed to select a toy after the exam.  My wife and I were excited to hear the good news.

Children’s Village provided a service to us that didn’t change our lives, but it did improve it.  Had this facility not been here, we would have had to travel to Seattle.  I don’t know if you’ve taken a two-year-old child to Seattle for a 30-minute appointment and then gotten in the car and headed home.  I’m fortunate enough to say that I have not.  This facility was available to provide the services my family needed in a location that is convenient for us.


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Alaska Airlines Experience

Last summer, the Parent to Parent program at Children’s Village offered an opportunity for our daughter, Priscilla to go to the Yakima Airport. We hadn’t flown before and wondered what it would be like as our daughter is a wheelchair user. We went thru TSA screening and waited to board the plane. We were loaded first and Priscilla had to be transferred to a mobile aisle chair. Then they put a ramp to the airplane and wheeled her on backwards. Once we were onboard, Priscilla was then transferred to her seat. The flight crew came over to ensure she was comfortable, then everyone else was able to board the plane. They closed the door, started the engines and taxied the runway.

This was a big deal for us! I was worried she would scream to go home and I was curious to see how she would behave. This opportunity allowed us a practice run to see what to expect and what we might need to fly. This Spring Priscilla was awarded a wish trip to Orlando, Florida. We discussed with her the travel plans and Priscilla knew what to expect. On the date of travel she was so excited! The flight was 6½ hours long and she was amazing! Thank you Parent to Parent and Alaska Airlines for allowing us this learning opportunity!

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‘Homies with Extra Chromies’ BBQ… for families raising children with Down syndrome!

Feeling alone is a very common feeling shared by many parents that are raising children with special needs. Some don’t know how to reach out for support, or even that support is available.  The Parent to Parent program at Children’s Village provides support for families in many different ways.

Last night our Homies with Extra Chromies  Down syndrome group met offsite for a BBQ. One of our families welcomed us into their home. I had the opportunity to see magic happen outside of Children’s Village. Kids were playing, parents were talking and laughing… it was awesome! These parents, children and families that didn’t even know each other a few years ago are now good friends!

Some feel that you should only come to a support group if you need support. The truth is you take turns giving and receiving support, often without realizing it, and find friendship along the way.

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It takes a Village . . .

by Michelle and John Riggs, parents of Laura, the Mr. Ike Miracle Child

It takes a village to raise a child. Little did I know how true this proverb would be to our family. When Laura was little, we lived in Idaho. There wasn’t anything like a Children’s Village there. I was alone. Autism back then seemed like an unspeakable disorder, something to be whispered about behind closed doors. I started noticing signs of Autism in my daughter. When I brought up my concerns to Laura’s Pediatrician, he brushed them aside. She just has a speech delay, he told me, and signed us up with a speech therapist that came once a month, if that. That nagging feeling of something is not quite right persisted. When we moved to Yakima and Laura was in Kindergarten, her teacher pulled us aside and mentioned how Laura would probably benefit by having an evaluation done by Children’s Village. I had always kind of wondered about Laura having Autism, and yet it was kind of a blow to our family. We were suspicious of professionals due to being brushed off before. But this place was different. When the therapist talked to us, it was in words we understood. When we had questions, they walked us through everything. They made sure to know I wasn’t alone. They offered support for me, my husband, and our daughter Lily. All services Laura received was at the village. While she enjoyed Occupation therapy in the gym, my other two children got to play in the Child Care center, and I was able to talk to other moms that have been in my position, moms that have just started their journey,  And moms that are on a different path than I.  Together , with others at the Village, we have shared triumphs. And we have shed tears for the challenges we are faced with. But we will not have to face these challenges alone…. We have our Village.

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April Is Autism Awareness Month

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World Down syndrome Day 3/21/17

Our parent group Yakima Valley Homies with Extra Chromies hosted a walk on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at the track up at West Valley’s Freshman Campus. We were small but mighty, out to celebrate World Down syndrome Day. It had been pouring rain throughout the day but as it was meant to be the clouds opened up, the rain stopped and we had sunshine for our walk. As families started to arrive we had bubbles ready to fly and boy did they! We had children with Down syndrome, their families and friends come to walk and celebrate. There was fun, laughter, exercise, support and amazing connections made that day. Our families never cease to amaze me for the love they have for their kids and for each other! They never miss an opportunity to celebrate just how truly awesome their kids are!

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Celebrate “World Down syndrome Day” – March 21

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