Erik Halvorson – Then and Now

In 2011, Erik Halvorson presented Governor Gregoire one of his famous hand-made lanyards on a special visit to Children’s Village.

Erik is an entrepreneur with a big heart. For years, he has beaded and sold lanyards. At age 13, Erik used his earnings to purchase Christmas gifts for children attending the Holiday Festival at Children’s Village. Each year Erik shopped for the perfect gift for each child with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, or other disability. Erik was one of the first clients at Children’s Village and experiences autism himself. His amazing gifts are his love and acceptance of others and his ability to step out of his comfort zone to make an impact on so many children.

Erik has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, and has utilized cardiology, genetics, endocrinology, nutrition, speech therapy, occupational therapy, family swim, gastroenterology, social skills classes and dental services at Children’s Village.

Today, Erik still has special healthcare needs, but has almost completed his degree in Applied Science from Yakima Valley College and has a part time job in a medical office. He feels more confident and comfortable in his own skin. Erik’s needs were met over the last 20 years at Children’s Village, helping him to grow into a very caring young man. A true success—from Children’s Village to college student.

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Reflections by Children’s Village staff and parent Liz Cruz

My family has received so many services here at Children’s Village. For me, as a mother it was seeing my son make a friend for the first time at age 10 during Social Skills Camp. It was seeing my middle son be quiet, awake, still and content for the first time at the age of 8 during Occupational Therapy. It was seeing my youngest son get to be himself at Sib shops and know that he is not alone. It was connecting with other families that saw the humor in what we go through with our kids. It’s receiving support at the Autism support group to know you are not alone. As an employee it’s having the ability to give back. To help others in the way another helped you, paying it forward.

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Reflections on Children’s Village by Behavior Therapist Cindy Meyers

“I started with Epic when we first opened, and had a toddler classroom for kids with social/emotional/traumatic issues. My one word is “Collaborative” I think Children’s Village does an amazing job of putting kids and families first- joining along with them to help children grow and develop. Children’s Village and the staff here are enthusiastic, welcoming, warm, helpful, kinds, work together well, and are innovative. I know I wouldn’t do “mental health” the same if Children’s Village wasn’t here- I’ve learned so much from the multi-and inner-disciplinary experience! I’ve had so many meaningful experiences, doing a multi-displinary social skills group with speech and occupational therapy where the children with autism and anxiety started out nervous and quiet, and ended up (after 12 weeks) with new good friends and much confidence! The kids enjoyed group so much, their parents felt they learned not only social skills to apply at school but also gained confidence and reduced anxiety!

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Children’s Village celebrates 20 years!

Children’s Village celebrates 20 years! KNDO-TV reporter Veronica Padilla takes a look at the Village and the many services for children with special health care needs. Come to the Village on Saturday, Oct. 14, and help us celebrate!

NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

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Children’s Village turns 20: Let’s celebrate!

The public is invited to come help celebrate Children’s Village’s 20th anniversary! The Village is hosting a day of events on Saturday, Oct. 14, in honor of two decades of serving children with special health-care needs and their families, all in a welcoming place that unites over 30 specialty care services under one colorful roof.

• 10-11 a.m. The Buddy Walk
The Buddy Walk, which celebrates people with Down syndrome, kicks off the day’s festivities. It’s an easy walk around the Children’s Village campus. There will also be information and entertainment. Children and those with special needs will receive a Buddy Walk medal when they finish the walk. Registration is $10 for an individual, $25 for teams under 10, and $50 for teams of 11 or more participants.
• 11 a.m.-2 p.m., The Community Celebration
Join us for our community celebration featuring treats and fun activities, including opportunities to experience adaptive and therapeutic bikes, trikes and other outdoor sports equipment provided by the nonprofit Outdoors for All. Each piece of equipment has been specially designed for people with disabilities.

• Also, on Friday, Oct. 20, 6 a.m.-6 p.m., it’s the Children’s Miracle Network Radiothon
Children’s Miracle Network is partnering with NewsTalk KIT 1280 to raise funds for children. The goal is to raise $20,000 in honor of the anniversary. Tune in to make your pledge and to hear stories about local families who have been helped through care at Children’s Village.

Children’s Village is located at 3801 Kern Road.

About Children’s Village
As a collaboration between Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Virginia Mason Memorial, Comprehensive Healthcare and The Memorial Foundation, the Village provides medical, dental, and behavioral services to children from birth to 18 with special health care needs such as autism and Down syndrome. Also offered are peer support groups for parents and siblings, team sports and social events.

Through its unique blend of services, the Village has helped thousands of children live fuller, more independent lives. In 2016, the Village served nearly 5,000 children with special needs, five times as many as were served in 1998, the first full year it was open.

Find out more at

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Reflections on 20 years, by Dr. Diane Liebe, Medical Director of Children’s Village

I was involved in the planning process for CV, so have been involved for 20+ years!  What I recall about the planning process was the excitement of community partners in supporting the concept of the Village, and the visioning by the initial Trustee partners.  When I have spoken about the CV model to other communities, that level of community support and visionary leadership are 2 areas which have been hard to replicate.

I remember opening day of Children’s Village: I was 9 months pregnant with my oldest child.  I came to the opening in a lovely maternity frock!  I can always remember how old the Village is, because my son is the same age.  I also remember the large number of individuals and organizations represented at the Opening.  For example, I remember several physicians from Seattle Children’s Hospital made the drive over for the opening.

Having practiced in this community before Children’s Village, as a general pediatrician, I remember the days of sending families all over and back to receive services.  There was little coordination of services, and it could be hard to even find necessary services.  Having Children Village as a centralized location of services for children with special health care needs and their families, has made referrals into services much easier for medical providers and families.  It has enabled us to expand our range of services, such as broadening medical subspecialty clinics and establishing a Developmental and Behavioral medical practice at the village.  But, perhaps the most important part of having Children’s Village in our community is the spiritual support for families that is provided.  Walking through the front lobby and seeing families with children of various ages and needs, in a comfortable and accepting environment, is the true success of Children’s Village!

I have enjoyed the experience of following families as their children grow, develop, and become young adults.  Although sometimes it can be bittersweet, I feel fortunate to watch as these youth transition to the next stage of their lives, whether it is finding a work experience, moving on in school, or changing their residence to become more independent.  I especially enjoy having young adults drop off graduation photos so that I can share in their success.

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Focus Group Participants Needed

View The Flyer »

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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