You have probably heard or read about Hand in Hand’s mission; to provide fun, inclusive learning and recreational programs to enrich the lives of children and adults of all abilities, but have you ever though about what this truly means?
To be inclusive means to believe in and promote the right of individuals who have physical or intellectual disabilities, or medical/behavioral needs to be included in learning and social activities with their siblings and peers and to fully access their community. All abilities simply means that you are welcome just as you are.
Throughout our history, Hand in Hand has been committed to supporting the needs of children and adults as well as their families and empowering all to live fully and thrive in their community. Although living fully may be defined differently for each individual person, I think we can all agree that it is essential to have safe, welcoming, accessible spaces and equal access to care and activities to ensure all can truly thrive in our community.
And when childcare centers, after school programs and recreational settings truly welcome individuals of all abilities, their parents and guardians can rest, take care of themselves, and find balance, allowing them to be better employees, community members, and caregivers.
Several months ago, I had the opportunity to sit down and record an interview with Johnna, a long-time Hand in Hand parent. I asked her to share how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected her and her family and to acknowledge the negative outcomes as well as some silver lining moments of living in such a time as this.
Johnna, her husband Adam, and their energetic 4-year-old son Everett have been a part of the Hand in Hand family since Everett was 3 months old. Although they live in the Illinois Quad Cities, Everett’s family makes the daily drive to Bettendorf before commuting to their full-time jobs so that Everett, who was born with Spina bifida, can spend his days learning and having fun alongside his peers.
As you listen to Johnna’s story, I hope you are encouraged by her strength amid the unique challenges of parenting a child with exceptional medical needs and gain a new appreciation for the importance of safe, inclusive childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Hand in Hand’s year-round programs provide inclusive childcare and preschool for children 6 weeks to 5 years old, as well as school-age activities, including care after school, during school in-service days and a 12-week summer enrichment program for those 5-18 years of age, evening and weekend recreational experiences for all ages, People with Purpose adult day activities as well as a 2-week summer camp for individuals of all abilities in our community. To learn more about Hand in Hand, please explore our website at www.handinhandqc.org.