The Studio Blog Archive
A few posts we've written over the years
Family Support Services
Before joining the Rainbows’ team, Teresa Shackelford had no previous experience working alongside children with special needs. Teresa had moved back to Wichita and was looking for a job where she felt she could make a difference rather than working sales. Her daughter worked for Rainbows and suggested she give Rainbows a try. “She said it was very fulfilling for her and I would like it,” said Teresa. “And she was right. I have been here 20 plus years.”
“Little did I know when I accepted the job at Rainbows, that a few years later I would be blessed with a granddaughter who later would be diagnosed with dual dyslexia,” said Teresa. “My experience at Rainbows has helped me to understand her frustrations and anxieties and to help her through the rough patches.”
Teresa started out as a para educator in the child care center and a part-time bus driver, then left the classroom and took the Transportation Lead position. She now works as the Center Based Scheduler for Family Support Services. “Daily I put schedules together to meet our families’ needs,” she said. “Whether it be for afterschool latchkey care, weekend respite care or care for days that schools are out, I’m creating the schedules.”
Helping with Camp Woodchuck preparation, working on Quality Assurance forms for the Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization (SCDDO), filing and working on the daily center time sheets are other parts of Teresa’s job. “When I took the position of Scheduler, I was able to reconnect with kids and their families that I had as babies in the nursery at Kids’ Cove,” she said. “To see them as teenagers in high school or preparing for high school is such a joy. The kids are definitely my favorite part of my job. They are such a blessing.”
“Teresa is very dedicated to our families,” said Lynlea Southards, Family Support Services Coordinator. “She is always willing to go above and beyond to help or support families with any needs they might have.”
Teresa has two grandchildren, often traveling to watch her grandson play basketball and sharing special adventures with her granddaughter. On the rare occasions she is home, she loves to read.
A Family Legacy
Samantha Ritchie is continuing the legacy of the Ritchie family’s tradition as a friend to Rainbows. “My family has been involved with Rainbows for a long time and my older sister volunteered at Rainbows when she was in high school,” said Sammie. Her great grandfather supported Rainbows in the early years and many family members, including her father Naaman Ritchie, have served on the Board of Directors.
A sophomore in high school, Sammie volunteers at Rainbows’ Kids’ Point one afternoon a week in a pre-Kindergarten classroom. “My mom told me she thought I would really enjoy it and would love working with the kids. Turns out I do!”
Sammie’s love for the children is reflected in their love for her. “I like Sammie so so so much,” said 3-year-old Sam. Lucy, age 4, said, “I like playing with Sammie.” Louie, age 4, agreed, “She is nice. Sammie is pretty. I like her.”
Sammie plays with the children and helps the teachers in many ways. “I have learned how the kids’ days go and how they are managed,” she said. “I have learned they are joyfully unpredictable. I love when I come in and the kids get excited and call me over. They all ask me to sit with them or play with them.”
Classroom 6 Lead Teacher Autumn Hutchison said, “The kids absolutely love Sammie. They always ask where she is or when she is coming in to play. The girls like to do her hair and the boys like to chase her outside on the playground. When Sammie is in the classroom none of the students want to play with the teachers. Sammie is their favorite.”
Outside of Rainbows, Sammie enjoys boxing, drawing and painting, and hanging out with friends. During the summers, she works at her dad’s business. “I would recommend volunteering at Rainbows,” she said. “The children are so sweet and full of energy.”
Thank you Samantha for being a Friend!
Ayah and Fritz
Kelly and Scott have two children. Both have received Rainbows’ services in their home. Kelly says she has appreciated having Rainbows’ Physical Therapist, Rhonda come to their home over the last 18 months. “Having Rhonda come to our home has been great,” said Kelly. “I find her visits so supportive as a parent learning how to help my children develop and grow. She is full of ideas, listens to my concerns and my family has truly benefitted.”
Their oldest child Ayah was born early at 25 weeks and spent her early days in the NICU. The family got connected to Rainbows when Ayah was around 6 months old and not babbling. “Rainbows helped Ayah catch up developmentally and now she talks a mile a minute,” said Kelly. “I saw progress in her speech almost right away.”
Fritz, their second child was born at 32 weeks with Cerebral Palsy and Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) a term used to describe visual impairment that occurs due to brain injury. His eyes are able to see, but his brain is not able to interpret what is being seen. He spent 37 days in the NICU and when he came home, Rhonda became his therapist.
Kelly saw how Ayah connected with Rhonda at Fritz’s visits and asked if Rainbows could help both children.
Rhonda connected the family to a vision clinic in town that helped them gain greater understanding of his visual impairment as well as another Rainbows’ professional who helps him get use to eating age appropriate foods. Rhonda and Kelly work on his core, back and neck strength so he can hold his head up and get mobile. Fritz loves to knock down block towers and play with toys during his therapy time with Rhonda. Soon he will walk with the aid of foot orthotics.
“I can’t imagine where we would be without Rainbows,” said Kelly. “I trust their guidance and am a better parent because of their help.”