We moved to Bettendorf from Davenport in 2005 in order to get Jenna into a school that was more accommodating to her special needs. Being a single parent who works full-time, I was faced with finding affordable, safe care for Jenna with a provider that understood her special needs related to her Cerebral Palsy. I had looked at several child care providers and came to the conclusion that these settings were not a good fit for her needs.
Someone told me about Hand-In-Hand. I specifically recall when I walked in the front door of Hand-In-Hand to meet with them and tour the center, I felt like I was home. The environment and staff were cheerful, friendly and so welcoming.Seeing staff working with other special needs children, I observed the atmosphere of acceptance and lots of joyful noise! My decision to enroll her there was an easy one.
Although my primary need at that time was safe child care and respite, it wasn't long before I saw that Jenna was gaining a lot more than I had anticipated. She blossomed socially in this environment of acceptance. Over the years that she has gone to HIH, Jenna took part in the multitude of activities that Hand-In-Hand offers to include Food, Friends and Fun, Movie and Popcorn Night, Sleep-over nights, Teen Night, Inspiration Studio, HIH Camp, as well as others. My daughter likes to be helpful, so she has done some volunteer work for them as well. I remember her telling me when she was around 8 that she was going to run Hand-In-Hand some day!
With increased interaction with staff who understood and accepted her differences, she became more comfortable with people and with talking to people, even if they didn't understand her speech at first. I believe that being in this place, where she can be herself and feel the acceptance of staff and peers around here, she has continued to grow in self-confidence and self-acceptance. In addition to the multitude of benefits to Jenna, the center has been Hand-In-Hand has been a God-send to both she and I.
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