The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years


Letter from the President

"Every child needs at least one person who is crazy about him."

I was fortunate to have a scholarship to attend the Kansas Association for Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health (KAIMH) annual conference in Kansas City at the end of May. KAIMH is an association of professionals who are concerned with the emotional development of infants and young children. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear from experts across the nation over the span of two full days. After reviewing my notes, I would like to share with you some of the information that stood out to me.

We all communicate through our behaviors and actions. What makes a typical behavior a challenging one is often intensity, duration, and how often that behavior is displayed. You don’t have to be around children to observe this. Just look around you when you are out among others. Sometimes my husband will say, “Are you done now?” when I am passionately expressing my feelings. He is usually right. We all have our own “hot spots” that can trigger an emotion. When that happens we must separate ourselves from the situation if possible. If not, our emotions take over and not our usual logical self.

Children need the support of families and trained individuals to help them learn how to appropriately share their emotions. Sometimes they do not even know why they are upset, crying, or throwing a tantrum.

Sometimes children who are struggling with their emotions can also withdraw. They are the quiet ones who can be overlooked. Children with special needs tend to interact less with peers; may have poor social interactions; or poor acceptance by peers and in new environments.

What are some of the things that adults can do to help children in their social emotional development? There is a lot in the literature to explore but let’s look at some basic things. Make deposits into their emotional piggybanks. That means having regular positive interactions with them daily. Make eye contact; connect with the child’s interest; listen and respond; and acknowledge feelings they may have. Don’t we all yearn for that?

A quote that has stayed with me after the conference is one by Urie Bronfenbrenner.

“Every child needs at least one person who is crazy about him.” That could be you.

Rainbows changed the future for our baby girl

Macayla Davis, a powerful young woman

Non-verbal and with no social skills, 2 ½ year old Macayla Davis joined the Rainbows’ family within a month after being diagnosed with autism. Macayla is now almost 19 years old, a high school graduate, working part-time at Goodwill Industries, and considering enrolling in online college classes for the fall.

Macayla entered a pilot program classroom at Rainbows, and the socialization immediately began. Now, Macayla has great social skills and is very outgoing, both of which are fairly uncommon in persons with autism.  Macayla’s teachers taught both Macayla and her mother sign language, and Macayla was so thrilled at being able to communicate that she learned to verbally speak by the end of the year.

“Rainbows’ staff and this entire organization changed the future for our baby girl,” praised Macayla’s mom, Roxann. “We attribute all the successful attributes of Macayla to the help that we have received from the staff at Rainbows.”

After Macayla had been with Rainbows for a year, Roxann was able to go back to work outside the home. “Rainbows stuck with us through thick and thin since the time that she was 2 ½ years to now,” said Roxann.  “They gave us unwavering help when we needed it.” 

Because of her experience with Rainbows at such an early age, Macayla advanced and moved from her elementary specialized classrooms to a “classroom within a classroom” at North High School. In order to graduate, she completed her senior project and graduated with her North High Class of 2017.

Macayla is also a talented artist, a live theater actor, a history buff, and 100% a computer geek. She loves to animate projects and is active on social media with her own Facebook page. She enjoys visiting Cowtown and the Renaissance Festival, and recently took a trip to Kansas City to attend a CosPlay convention with a friend. “The weekend was so much fun,” grinned Macayla. She proudly shared that she earned the money through her job at Goodwill for her hotel room and the tickets to the convention. 

Macayla’s true passion is definitely theater.  In high school, she worked backstage and also performed in drama class plays. “That was a huge turning point for her,” explained Roxann. “It was a huge coming out point for her confidence.” Today, Macayla is an active member of The Laughing Feet Performers and starred as one of the main roles of “Princess Peach” in 2016’s production of Laughing Feet’s fall production. She has also performed for the past two years at Laughing Feet’s “Laughing with the Stars” in February and with Laughing Feet at River Festival.

Over the past year, Macayla received Rainbows’ Targeted Case Management services with Shelby Fitzgerald, her Case Manager. “She’s pretty chill, pretty cool,” said Macayla. Then her face turned serious. “She Thinks. She’s very persistent.”

“When things didn’t look very promising for Macayla, Rainbows found a way to work with her abilities and develop new abilities in her to optimize her life,” said Roxann. “The encouragement and positivity given to her the entire time she worked with staff was above and beyond.”

Roxann continued, “Macayla now is a powerful, encouraging, loving individual to others because of the love, support, encouragement and positivity of everyone at Rainbows.” 

-Melani Kliewer, Volunteer Coordinator

It’s not just a job

A Day in the Life of Rainbows’ Development Assistant

Hey, all! I’m Rebecca Saxton, development assistant for Rainbows United. The end of July will mark my one-year workiversary for Rainbows, so this is great timing for me to reflect on what I do at Rainbows and what I love about my job.

Guiding principle that resonates with me the most: “Be resourceful in finding solutions through intelligent decision making and determination.”

Where you’ll most likely find me at an event: at check-in and check-out.

What I spend most of my time doing:

* Managing our donor database: tracking all donations, reporting them to the VP of development and our board of directors, sending thank you letters to donors, creating online donation forms, sending emails to donors, and lots more.
* Tracking event registrations and all event purchases (auction items, merchandise, etc. for The Blarney Breakfast, The Rainbows Run, Peter Hampel’s Luau and Fashion Passion.) For a glimpse into what I do for the Blarney Breakfast, check out my wrap-up blog from 2018.
* I also get to write most of the social media content for our events and am a brand new member of Rainbows’ grants team.

Things I like most about my job:
* Problem solving – I live for the thrill of improving a process. Some days, this is as simple as sourcing an electronic check-in app so volunteers don’t have to use paper guest lists for an event. Other days, it’s long-term brainstorming with the development team to find a way to better identify and update business contacts within our database.
* Knowing I work for an organization that cares (and attracts others who want to contribute their time, money and talents) – while I don’t often have direct interaction with those individuals and families Rainbows serves, I get to work with some amazing employees who volunteer their after-work time and talents for Rainbows at special events and throughout the year. Working alongside these people who care so deeply reminds me that it’s not just a job.

Voices of the Rainbows Choir

We Can’t Stop The Feelin’

Written by Tiffany Steinbacher, Camp Woodchuck Assistant Camp Director

Clapping. Stomping. Dancing. Singing. And lots of smiling! These are some of the things you will see or hear during our daily choir practices and performances with the Voices of the Rainbow Camp Woodchuck Choir.

The Voices of the Rainbow Choir is made up of all the campers and staff of Camp Woodchuck at Kids’ Cove. The campers begin to take on their own special roles as they get more comfortable at performing. We have lead singers, backup dancers, soloists, conductors, and even our very own sound manager.

          Throughout the nine weeks of Camp Woodchuck, the choir performs three songs for businesses in the Wichita and El Dorado communities. Performing for our community is one way we can say “thank you” to all the businesses that support Camp Woodchuck. With their support, we are able to provide a fun, recreational program for our campers. This summer we have nine scheduled choir performances: KMUW, Cox Communications, The Wichita Eagle, Fidelity Bank, LS Industries, Community National Bank and Trust of El Dorado, Butler Electric Cooperative, and Intrust Bank.

          The camp planning staff chooses three songs each summer for the choir to learn and perform for our choir trips. This summer we have chosen A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman, Party in the U.S.A. by Miley Cyrus, and Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake. Each of the songs brings out the campers’ unique and beautiful personalities. If you see us out and about this summer, we’d be delighted to see you dance and sing along as we express our sincerest appreciation through song and dance!

“Singing, dancing, and seeing my friends. Party in the U.S.A. because I sing it at home.” – Camper Phoenix when asked what she loves about choir and what her favorite choir song is.

“My favorite thing about choir is watching the kids dancing and having fun while singing the songs. I also love going out into the community, feeling supported in the community, and helping the campers meet new people. My favorite song this summer is Party in the U.S.A. because the kids seem to really love that song the most. It’s fun and upbeat and the kids love to dance to it! –Jessica M., Staff 

Bright Ideas for a Safe and Happy Fourth of July Holiday

Celebrate with your family

Independence Day is a noisy holiday, and can cause added stress and anxiety to children and pets in the home. In order to “boom-proof” your house, try playing televisions and radios in different areas throughout the day and night, run box or ceiling fans, use noise-cancelling headphones and a white noise machine. Keep windows and doors closed and the air conditioner running.

Make staying in fun by preparing a red, white and blue meal together. Pinterest, Food Network and Kraft all have delicious holiday recipes. Have each member of the family pick and prepare a dish. Working together in the kitchen is a terrific memory-maker for families. You may be having such a good time you don’t even hear the noise outside.

Putting together simple musical instruments and playing them will counteract all the exterior noise and make creative play on the interior. Felt Magnet is a treasure trove of tips for DIY pros or novices. Construct some tambourines, maracas and jingle bell bracelets and have an epic dance party.

Wichita Fire Department will be handing out tickets to anyone caught shooting off illegal fireworks inside Wichita city limits. A fine of $250 will be given. The pyrotechnics sold in Wichita do not go over six feet up. When you’re lighting fireworks, don’t forget to have a running hose or large bucket of water nearby. Make sure children are always supervised by an adult. Soak used fireworks in water for at least 30 minutes before throwing them away. According to a report on the Today Show, 13,000 Americans were injured last year due to fireworks. Sparklers are the most common cause for injury.

If your family chooses to attend a large fireworks display, make sure small children have ear plugs or headphones on and hold them close, so they can be reassured by your touch.

Red, White and Boom!, Wichita’s annual Independence Day party, will be held on the Hyatt lawn downtown at 5 p.m. There will be food trucks, a beer garden, free concert and a great view of the fireworks.

Derby Fourth of July celebration begins at 7:30 a.m. with the Firecracker Run, followed by a parade at 10 a.m. beginning at Panther Stadium. Head to High Park at 7 p.m. for food, fun and games. Fireworks cap off the night at 9:30 p.m.

Goddard’s city celebration will take place on Sunday, July 1, and features live music and free food at Discovery Intermediate School, beginning at 7 p.m. The fireworks display starts at 10 p.m., followed by a free pool party.

The city of Haysville has a day-long celebration planned on July 4th. Festivities include a parade, street games, water fun, a concert and of course, fireworks. Most events are free.

 El Dorado will celebrate The Fourth of July in the East Park on Wednesday, July 4th with family-friendly games, activities and lunch.

Whether your family chooses to stay in or go out during this mid-summer holiday, stay cool, be careful and have your own particular brand of fun.