The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years


Karis Sparks

A Rainbows’ Success Story
Karis Sparks at Fashion Passion

The definition of the name Karis describes Karis Sparks perfectly: “A highly unique, interesting person who is worth taking the time to know. Karis is witty, intelligent, passionate, and wise.”

A master of organization with a sense of humor, Karis Sparks is the Targeted Case Management/Autism Program Assistant. Karis started working at Rainbows through a temp agency and was asked to come on board permanently in 2011. She started in Human Resources, then moved to Kids’ Cove, but when Lindsay Coffee moved into her role as Targeted Case Management Coordinator, she brought Karis with her. “Karis is so wonderful to work with and so good with employees,” said Lindsay. “She adds humor to daily tasks and everyone loves working with her.”

As the TCM/Autism Program Assistant, Karis said her daily duties include “filing, filing, and more filing.” This is characteristic of Karis’ dry sense of humor.  She actually plays a vital role in making sure all TCM detailed folders are in compliance, does data entry and helps with Autism credentialing.  With eight Targeted Case Managers working with up to 450 families to find and secure programs, services and financial aid for each child and family, organization is essential to the success of the TCM program.

Karis is a certified pharmacy technician, and plans to become a Speech Language Pathologist or Physical Therapist.  She loves the work environment at Rainbows. “I love the people and the children, as well as the flexibility,” she said.

Karis is also a dedicated supporter and volunteer at Rainbows’ events. She has even brought her mother to volunteer with her. When she’s not at Rainbows, Karis likes to cook and enjoys a good murder show.

5K with Taylor Miller

Get ready to run the Rainbows Run
5k training with Taylor Miller

Hi my name is Taylor Miller! I’m a certified personal trainer with a degree in exercise science who has an incredible passion for children with disabilities. I am also a Registered Behavior Technician working with children with autism at Rainbows’ United. I’m currently working on getting my master’s degree in psychology to get my Board Certified Behavior Analyst certification.

My passion for fitness and health began in high school when I was wrestling and running a significant amount to stay in shape and on weight for competition. The combination of wrestling, malnourishment and running led to overuse injuries and a desire to learn more about health and how to take care of my body.

After graduating with a Bachelors in Exercise Science I was a personal trainer for 3 years. During this time I developed programs for individuals with sports, weight loss, posture and alignment, and different running events such as 5k’s, 10k’s and half marathons. One lady in particular started with a couch to 5k program and after a year and a half lost over 100 pounds and runs half marathons now!

Structure

So you want to run a 5K? Whether this is your first 5K or Number 100, this plan can work for you. Why? As humans we are creatures of habit, and when we follow a program our bodies thrive and are able to progress much faster. With this 4-8 week plan you can prepare yourself for your first 5k or improve the time on your last.

Spending 5 minutes stretching before and after your runs, consistent and controlled breathing, staying hydrated before, during and after your runs are all small factors that could make a huge difference in how you feel, your ability to recover and the times of your run!

Accountability

I recommend always running on a track or outside rather than on a treadmill, but depending on what you have access to, anything is better than skipping days. Having a smart watch to track your running distances and times will be beneficial to keeping yourself accountable. Keep a running log of what you did on what day, how you felt, and your distances and times, so you can track your improvement each week. Try getting your friends and family involved. Having someone working out with you holds you both accountable.

Success and Progress!

Week 1

Day 1- 1 Mile as fast as you can (Walk, jog, or run, whatever you do, time yourself. Try to do this on a track or outside with smart watch!)

Day 2- Rest/Cross Training (Sore? Take a rest day or the kids to the park to stay active. Not sore? Play a game of basketball, do some yoga or go for a walk with the family!)

Day 3- 40-60 min easy run Beginner-Walk/Jog Intermediate/Pro Jog/run (Either way record distance and time)

Day 4- 30-45 min easy/cross training (rest if needed)

Day 5- 8-12x 400m fast 200m easy (On a track this would be one lap fast, ½ lap easy) x8-12

Day 6- Rest/Cross (Sore? Take a rest day or the kids to the park to stay active. Not sore? Play a game of basketball, do some yoga or go for a walk with the family!)

Day 7- 30-45 easy run Beginner-Walk/Jog Intermediate/Pro Jog/run (Either way record distance and time)

Sign up for the Rainbows Run today!
 

Taylor Miller

It’s the Little Wins
Taylor

Taylor Miller has literally grown up with Rainbows. The son of Kim Becker, Rainbows Autism Consultant, Taylor spent much of his childhood onsite at Rainbows. Now a Behavior Technician working with children with autism at Rainbows, Taylor has come “back home”. 

From a young age, Taylor had a passion for fitness and working with children with special needs. One of his earliest memories is helping a girl with special needs throw a ball to a target. “The excitement on her face at her success, and the fact that I helped her accomplish that goal, is something that influenced many of my future decisions,” said Taylor.

Taylor’s passion for his work is immediately apparent when he talks about the children he helps. “It’s the little wins,” he said. “Seeing a kid obtain a new skill, something as simple as saying Hi or asking for water, are the little wins. They make a huge difference in the kid’s life.”

While Taylor works with children in a Rainbows’ center or at the child’s home, he also works with children on life skills in the community. “From car skills like buckling up, to behavior in a grocery store or restaurant, to going to a movie, I help children feel comfortable in everyday situations,” he explained.

Taylor is a certified personal trainer and a wrestling coach for Andover High School.  He is also the founder of Shepherd’s Way, a non-profit organization that gives young adults 18 years of age and older with special needs a place to live while teaching them independent living skills.  “There is a long waiting list for home and community services for adults,” said Taylor. “I started Shepherd’s Way in 2016, and we now have two houses providing a home and services for young adults.”

Taylor graduated from Wichita State University with a degree in Exercise Science. He is pursuing his Master’s degree in Psychology with a specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Shower the People You Love with Love

Valentine's Day
Carol's Ideas for Valentine's Day

By Carol Martin, Finance Dept.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show people how much you care. While some go all out with extravagant gifts, a small homemade token will be meaningful and precious to the recipient. Simple and well-planned parties are a great way to spoil your loved ones.

Volunteer to help your child’s class create and decorate Valentine mailboxes. Pringle’s cans, tissue or cereal boxes make great containers. Just have the kids bring an empty one from home, or save some yourself. Then cover with contact or construction paper. Each student can decorate their own. Bring some examples, like butterflies, alligators or unicorns. If you’re the room mom this year, start the party right with simple and fun butterfly treat bags.  When sweets are not on the list, fill a small goody bag with Valentine-themed stickers, mini erasers and pencils. Amazon and Oriental Trading Company have great prices and fast shipping. Fill a platter with fresh veggies, sliced and cut out with a mini heart-shaped cookie cutter. Place a bowl of Ranch dip in the center of the platter.

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday this year, plan a festive family dinner at home. Announce the evening’s lineup at breakfast with a heart-shaped menu. Since it’s a busy day, consider picking up takeout treats, like a Chick-fil-A platter of mini sandwiches, or a heart-shaped pizza from Papa John’s, Pizza Hut or Papa Murphy’s. Olive Garden has a To-Go special, too. You could make a cake or brownies, or buy one of the Dairy Queen red velvet cake specials. Put a small gift at each place setting, perhaps a small box of chocolates or stuffed animal. The kids can help make a centerpiece after school, like a candy heart tree, pipe cleaner vase, or mason jar luminary.

Host a Galentine’s Brunch on the weekend. Have a fancy drink ready to serve when your girl squad arrives, maybe a peach Bellini or watermelon margarita (don’t forget a non-alcoholic option). Put some fresh flowers on the table and keep the theme simple with basic shades of pink or red and white. String a garland of multi-colored hearts on the wall with twine or fishing line for a selfie feature. Begin the menu with a smoked salmon and avocado crostini, followed by shrimp and grits or a veggie quiche. Lobster or crab eggs Benedict will delight your besties, too. To stick with the basics, make scrambled eggs and serve with a green salad and mixed fresh fruit. Your posse will purr over brownie kabobs for dessert. Don’t forget to spoil them with a goody bag containing nail polish or lipstick in the latest color and one or two handmade truffles (easy to make, but impressive!).

The one day in February that is set aside to celebrate romantic love should be the day we celebrate all kinds of love. Your partner, family, friends and co-workers need to know how much you care. Shower them all with love on Valentine’s Day.

Children at Rainbows, young and old, will be enjoying Valentine parties as part of their Thursday activities. You’ll want to take a look at our Facebook page for photos from these events.

Charlesetta Berry

A Personal Commitment to Rainbows’ Children
Charlesetta Berry

Charlesetta Berry joined Rainbows United 22 years ago as a volunteer. After two years, Charlesetta had taken a job somewhere else and was leaving her volunteer position. As Charlesetta was leaving on her last day as a volunteer, a new Mom came into Rainbows looking for help with her child with special needs. Charlesetta remembers the mother was sure her child would never be able to walk or be able to do anything. Charlesetta took that mother’s words as a personal challenge. She walked back into the Rainbows’ office and asked for a job. “That child learned to walk,” said Charlesetta proudly.

Twenty years later, Charlesetta has worked with all ages of Rainbows’ children, infant to 21 years. At this time in her career, Charlesetta works as a Para educator at Kids’ Point in the Infant Room.  She greets the children and their parents every morning at 7 o’clock. Charlesetta said, “Seeing that parents are happy to bring their kids to Rainbows is one of my favorite parts of my job. The children count on me.”

“Charlesetta’s long term loyalty to Rainbows and her many experiences are some of the things that new parents find so impressive,” said Coordinator Michelle Croomes.  “Leaving a newborn can be daunting to families, but they find comfort in knowing Charlesetta is there.”

After twenty years, Charlesetta has enjoyed watching the babies grow and learn, and then having those babies’ brothers and sisters enter her classroom and and watching the entire family grow. “When the babies smile and are happy, it makes my day,” said Charlesetta.

Both Charlesetta’s son and one of her grandsons have special needs. Her son received services from Rainbows when he was young and her grandson currently receives services. When she’s not making babies and parents smile at Rainbows, Charlesetta enjoys spending time with her 9 grandkids. Charlesetta’s favorite pastime is riding horses.  If the weather’s nice, that’s where you’ll find Charlesetta Berry, riding free.