When Arizona graduated from Cheerful Helpers Child & Family Study Center in 2012, I was anxious about stepping back into the scary world without my special needs tribe around me. I was accustomed to weekly parent groups, family therapy sessions and connecting with the teachers and other families multiple times a day. Cheerful Helpers became my touchstone in many ways over the years that we were there. I wanted to keep that momentum going, even after we left.
So, I stayed involved as much as I could. A few of us formed a more official alumni association. We started putting together events for alumni and current families to get together. Now, we have four events a year and our little community is thriving.
Yesterday, we had our 3rd annual “read-a-long, sing-a-long” event, with interactive reading, songs and of course, cookie decorating.
I am proud of Arizona for wanting to be a leader to the younger kids. She has worries about coming back to the school because she has moved on with her life, but there is, within her, a deeper desire to help and give back to the school that gave our family so much.
Of course, the cookie decorating is the HIGHLIGHT of the event. I order lots of boxes of my favorite gluten free + vegan sugar cookies and bring frosting and sprinkles that are also gf + vegan. The kids decorate, engage with each other and realize that it’s fun to see old friends.
I am so grateful for these connections. In what ways do you stay tapped into your community of support?