Testimonials from Families & Friends of Spark 2 Hope
I want to take a few minutes to talk about Spark 2 Hope, it’s impact and it’s importance for families like mine.
I have 6 children, all autistic with varying levels of support needs. Anyone connected to disabled individuals will tell you that access to age and developmentally appropriate outlets still remains a problem in the world at large. This often leads to families like mine being “removed” from our community-being required to stay at home simply to keep our loved ones safe because safe appropriate access and supports in our communities are still lacking.
Children like mine struggle immensely when routines and schedules they have grown used to are suddenly removed from their lives. This is especially pronounced during school breaks, as the structure and comfort of the school day is abruptly removed. While other children look forward to filling their days with activities like summer camps, sport teams, play dates or even just enjoying the “lazy days” of summer with unstructured trips to parks, pools, and ice cream runs, these memorable and crucial moments for children remain largely inaccessible for children with special needs.
Summer camps and sport teams are accessible to typical children who require no extra support or adaptations to attend. Play dates require friendships outside of school which remain elusive for children like mine. Instead of being fun relaxing times, unstructured days spent at the pool or park become dysregulating stressful days for children like mine. Before long, the only option is to stay home. Children like mine spend school breaks inside-isolated from peers, isolated from their community, isolated from crucial learning and developmental experiences afforded to their neurotypical peers. They are forced into a situation that robs them of opportunities that we would argue every child needs access to in order to have a healthy fulfilling childhood-yet children like these, children who can least afford to miss these experiences, regularly do simply because of a lack of access.
When we heard of Spark to Hope, it was an answer to a prayer because the gaps its program fills is unheard of in our community. No other program provides a “day camp” experience with the needed supports already in place for children of all abilities to attend. No other program provides regularly scheduled “respite nights” with qualified caregivers already on staff. No other program has the facility to book birthday parties and provide regularly scheduled open gyms accessible to children of all abilities and needs.
Prior to Spark 2 Hope, our family was facing a summer of isolation, dysregulation, missed opportunities and missed experiences. My children were facing a summer of sitting inside our home with no interaction with peers, no opportunities to engage with our community, no opportunity to enjoy typical summer activities like water days, board games, arts and crafts and playtime with new summer friends.
Spark 2 Hope’s program changed the entire trajectory of our summer. My children had the opportunity to attend a “summer camp” like their peers. They attended a program where they were safe and cared for. They attended a program that provided a structured routine for them and met their support needs so they could engage in the program. They attended a program where they could meet and play with other children. They attended a program where they played outside, did arts and crafts, ate lunch with friends, had water days and gym time. They attended a program that was FUN with people who truly cared for them.
We would not consider it acceptable for neurotypical children to “lose” their school break time by being isolated and shut inside at home. We should not consider it acceptable for those children most vulnerable either, but because of a lack of access, it happens far too often. Spark 2 Hope is the only program I’ve found to fill that gap. To lose it would be to cut an essential lifeline for families like mine. It is simply a program that is too important to lose. It must continue. Thank you for taking the time to read our story.
I am beyond thankful for the time that our child with special needs was able to spend at Spark 2 Hope! Our child requires a one on one at all times throughout each day. Sometimes it can be extremely challenging to get in quality time with our other children without constantly having to gaze on our sweet little man with special needs. We were able to attend an event with family that would have been very difficult to do without the help of the staff at Spark 2 Hope. Were were able to get a full day of a break and words can't express how much this meant to our family. there are so many wonderful things for our son to do at Spark 2 Hope. Our son has met new friends and has had a blast playing with all of the great there for him to do there. We can't say enough about how great it is to have help available to recharge our mental and physical batteries as caregivers. We consider it a great privilege to have this service available to families in need like ours. Helping caregivers help the community over all. When we have healthier caregiver we have healthier kids. There couldn't have been a better name chosen then Spark 2 Hope, it certainly has given me a greater hope for the overall health of our family. I am thankful to have that extreme need of respite available to families in need like ours. Thank you Spark 2 Hope! You Rock!! -J.R.
We have needed a place like Spark 2 Hope for the last 2 year! My son has PTSD and reactive attachment disorder, and it is hard for him to learn and be successful in environments with little structure, no purposeful self- regulating times and rooms full of kids with only one or two supervising workers. At Spark2 Hope, has has a trained adult who can watch him interact with his group of 2 or 4 other kids. Giving him the personal attention he craves. They can see when he is upset or frustrated and help him to make healthy choices in the moment instead of not realizing a problem until the meltdown when it is too late. There is no other facility in the north metro that provides the care and services that our child needs, the chance to be around peers and learning basic social interactions in a safe environment, one where he is accepted for his delays and diagnosis. Most specialized camps are for autism only and the rest are for kids who do not have medical diagnoses that require a helping hand. Spark 2 Hope will us the respite care we need, without the worry, when we have meetings or appointments that he can't attend or on a day we both work. He loves being around other kids and we love that he gets the chance at Spark 2 Hope! - M.P.