Inspiring Us This Week: Arkansas Support Network

At United Way NWA we have the pleasure of supporting two programs at the Arkansas Support Network. These programs, together, support a wide range of individuals and make a huge impact in our community. The KidsClub summer program at Arkansas Support Network is a free program offered to children with disabilities. The program is a blessing to many working parents who otherwise would have to secure child care, which can be difficult in any case, but especially when a child needs special care. The Community Family Resource Center provides support to families of children with disabilities ages birth through 26. It serves four counties, Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington. The program puts specific emphasis on training and information for these families. Both programs, although different in service, are filling great needs in the Northwest Arkansas Community which is why they are “Inspiring Us This Week”.

What success looks like at KidsClub

“KidsClub Campers are given the freedom throughout camp to participate as much or as little as they feel comfortable. This allows them to grow throughout the program and try new experiences at their own pace. One camper, who often spent his time one on one with a staff member and less interactive with peers, showed tremendous growth at the end of KidsClub Camp while on a field trip to the Amazeum. This camper spent his time in the “Walmart” station at Amazeum where he worked with KidsClub campers and peers stocking shelves, running the register, and helping shoppers. During this field trip, the camper was talkative and excited to be interacting with peers. Often events and large field trips such as the Amazeum can be overwhelming, both to campers and staff, however with the additional training Arkansas Support Network was able to provide to Supervisors, Assistant Supervisors, and Camp Staff the field trip was a success and campers were able to participate with peers in a fun and exciting educational environment.”

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Families find success through the Family Community Support Center

“Regarding a success story, one of the families we work with has a 7-year-old son with Autism who has benefited from frequent school advocacy and support through the CPRC office. This family is Spanish-speaking, which only increased the obstacles to effective advocacy for the parents. When the son was four, he was introduced to our program, and he was in a day center receiving his first therapies. The mother was lost and frustrated and very afraid. She had almost no contact with the center, which was quite a distance from her house, and had no idea how to help her son. The family was in crisis, as they felt they could not take their son out in public because of his frequent meltdowns. At home, the situation was beyond stressful. He could not communicate with words or understand instructions or everyday communication. He displayed aggressive behavior in order to communicate, and the family didn’t know how to teach him to do things.

We started working on applications for services and talking about parent advocacy. We went to the preschool program to help her start communicating with therapists and teachers. He qualified for the Autism Waiver program through ASN when he was five and received two years of therapy. During that time, he experienced great stress in starting kindergarten and we provided frequent school advocacy. According to his mother, staff and teachers, he made huge gains in the waiver program. This mother has used every bit of information from our program and other sources, and has learned to become very persistent and firm in advocating for her son. With this learning she accomplished a school placement change, correcting a very difficult situation in which supports at school were not adequate, and then began to advocate for her older son, who also has Autism. She has said many times how grateful she is for the advocacy services she has received from ASN, and has helped other parents to access our program/services and has been able to share her personal experiences to help others. At seven, her son speaks in complete sentences, plays with other children, is progressing in academics and is able to enjoy being out in the community with his family. He no longer has meltdowns for the most part.”

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If you’re interested in helping this program, so that you can assist individuals as they work to move forward on the path to success, check out what your gift can do:

$5 a week ($260 a year) will provide:

2 field trips a week for 25 campers at KidsClub or quarterly publication in Spanish for hundreds of families at the Community Family Resource Center

 $10 a week ($520 a year) will provide:

healthy snacks for each camp location for all 9-10 weeks of KidsClub camp. 6 training/education sessions for families with children with disabilities  from the Community Parent Resource Center.

$20 a week ($1,040 a year) will provide:

Transportation costs for 25 campers for 2 field trips a week at KidsClub or Marshallese translation and interpretation year-round for the 45 Marshallese families we serve through the Community Parent Resource Center

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