The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years

Children’s Mental Health

Children learn skills through play

Children learn many important skills through play and it is important they have the opportunity to play every day. 

Some of the important skills they learn include 
•    communication, 
•    problem-solving, 
•    how to share, and 
•    how to navigate social situations. 

Play increases brain connections and improves critical thinking skills needed to be successful in the world. With increased time watching television, playing video games, and internet/screen time, children are spending less time in play and this affects them on a cognitive level. 

A parent can increase the time their child plays by facilitating play then allowing the child to take the lead. Parents should follow their child’s interests and allow the child to use their creativity and communication to navigate the interaction. For example, if a child is using blocks as a tea cup instead of building or stacking them, the parent should also pretend it is a tea cup. 

Parents can also comment on what the child is doing by saying something like, “Wow, you are stacking the blocks really high” or “You just put the red block on the blue block.” This kind of commenting builds confidence in children when they lead the play. The only time a parent may need to change the direction of the play is if the child is not playing safely or appropriately. 

Below are some resources that addresses the importance of play:

By Cindie Silmon, LCMFT-Mental Health Specialist and Leslie Stevens, LCMFT-Mental Health Specialist

Cindie Silmon, LCMFT became a Mental Health Specialist at Rainbows United in January of 2014. Leslie Stevens, LCMFT became a Mental Health Specialist at Rainbows United in July of 2008. Both therapists currently work in family homes supporting parents of infants and toddlers in our Attachment Bio-behavioral Catch-up service.

Community supports virtual event

Early intervention helps Zoe and Romeo make progress

Three-year-old Zoe loves horses and Peppa Pig.  She is a happy, quiet child who has a genetic disorder that shows symptoms similar to Autism. Both Zoe and her older brother Romeo have received services through Rainbows’ Infant/Toddler Services and now Targeted Case Management.

Zoe has mobility difficulties which require the need for SMO foot braces. These braces provide support to the heel and arch of Zoe’s feet to improve her mobility and balance. Rainbows’ Infant/Toddler Physical Therapist was able to help strengthen Zoe’s muscles and recommend the braces. Through Targeted Case Management, Rainbows has helped provide the special shoes and socks needed for Zoe to use the braces.  “Zoe couldn’t walk straight,” said Monica, Zoe’s mother. “Through therapy and the braces, she is walking a lot better now.”

Zoe also has difficulty focusing and speaking, which her mother believes is connected to hearing and vision issues. With help from Katie Bally, Speech Language Pathologist, and Patrick Washington, Audiologist, Zoe’s speech has improved and the family now understands her hearing challenges.  "Zoe is now communicating more wants and needs," said Emma Low, Zoe’s Targeted Case Manager. “I’ve been thrilled to be a part of Zoe’s journey and witness her continued progress.”

Zoe is one of the Rainbows’ children who was helped through donations raised at the 45th Annual Blarney Breakfast. In response to concerns regarding the health and safety of the community, the difficult decision was made to adapt this year's Blarney Breakfast to a virtual event. 

“Moving the Breakfast to a virtual event was the right thing to do,” said Deb Voth, President of Rainbows. “We are grateful to the staff, volunteers, partners and sponsors, including Chi Epsilon Chapter of ESA, Old Chicago East, Docuplex, KAKETV, KEYN, Power 93.5, KNSS and Dunkin’ who came together to make the event possible.” 

Don Hall and our radio partners promoted ways to give through online merchandise, Text-2-Give and Davis-Moore drop off.  Davis-Moore hosted the drop off site, collected donations and distributed Blarney Bundles on St. Patrick’s Day.  KAKETV helped spread the word about our event cancellation and produced a new promo spot to promote Text-2-Give.  

Dunkin’ continued to sell special dozen donuts and allowed Rainbows to randomly distribute the 1 week of free Dunkin’ coffee to 45 people who pre-purchased tickets. Old Chicago East communicated the changes to their patrons and guests. And, members of the Chi Ep sorority packaged up coffee mugs and delivered them to our major sponsors on St. Patrick’s Day

New this year, Rainbows added a Text-2-Give option and a Social Media contest.  Noah Crosby was the winner of the contest, breakfast with Wichita State Baseball Head Coach Eric Wedge and Pitching Coach Mike Pelfrey. Noah and his family receive service from Rainbows, including Camp Woodchuck which is a favorite of Noah’s.  During the breakfast, Noah told Coach Wedge, “This is the best day of my life!” Don Hall secured the breakfast location and Jimmy’s Egg donated the meals.

March 17 found many of the volunteers from Chi Epsilon, Old Chicago East, the National Guard, our radio and TV partners, celebrity coffee pourers, the Knights of Columbus and Rainbows waking up at 4 a.m., missing the excitement of preparing for the Blarney Breakfast. Then the photos started coming in of families celebrating the Blarney Breakfast from home! This was the reminder everyone needed. Blarney Breakfast is a Wichita Tradition. This is not the way we planned the 45th Annual Blarney Breakfast to unfold, but cairde (Irish for friends), thank you for making the day a day filled with rainbows.

With your help, approximately $4,000 was raised after we announced the cancellation of the breakfast, bringing our final net total to $51,700!

Children’s Mental Health

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Children’s Mental Health

Children are constantly watching the adults in their life to gather information and learn how to feel and act during difficult or scary situations. Children are watching and listening right now, as widespread panic sets in about COVID-19.  Schools across the U.S. are closing their doors for extended periods of time, leaving children with no routine. Take a deep breath. 

Here are some tips on how you can help your child’s mental health (and maybe your own) regarding COVID-19:

Limit the amount of media your child is consuming and keep adult-like discussions about your worries and anxiety about COVID-19 away from your children. 

Talk to your kids about what is going on at a developmentally appropriate level. Stay calm and reassuring while talking to your kids about COVID-19. Again your kids are picking up on your worry, so the less you worry, the less they will worry.  If you need help on how to talk to your children visit this link:

During social distancing, try to establish and keep a routine for your household. With many children being out of school for an extended amount of time, routines will be key to minimizing boredom. 

Along with routines, schedule time for fun. If your child will be going to different family members' homes while you work, make a calendar that shows your child who will be taking care of them each day to reduce worry. 

When you are at home together build a blanket fort in the living room, have arts and crafts time, explore a virtual museum together, read books together, and play games together. 

Kansas weather isn’t always great, but embrace rainy days and playing in the mud. Or enjoy an outside adventure in your yard when the weather is nice.

Here are some links to activities to try:

By: Alice Bouts, LMSW – Mental Health Specialist


Virtual event helps children with special needs like Adrian

Even though the Blarney Breakfast event has been adapted to a virtual event, the event is important to Rainbows as a major fundraiser. Opportunities to support Rainbows are now focused online and through local media. Items that would be sold at the event, will be available online at

Imagine you’re an 11-year-old boy whose doctor has ordered you to stop playing almost all sports, including basketball and running, because if you get hit by a ball or run too fast it could cause you serious injury. You are only allowed to swim, but swimming is not much of an option during the winter months. Adrian is that boy.

Adrian is a social 5th grader.  He goes to Mass every Sunday, likes Mexican music and food, and being with his family.  Adrian has Down Syndrome which causes developmental delays, heart defects, respiratory issues and intellectual disabilities for him. He also has short, delicate muscles in his neck, from his head to his shoulder.  Any type of injury can have a grave effect on these muscles and may cause serious injury, so he has to protect them.

“When Adrian was born, Rainbows came to the hospital,” said Maria, Adrian’s mother. “He began to receive Infant/Toddler Services right away until he was 3 years old. Adrian now receives Targeted Case Management services from Rainbows in our home.”

When Shannon Long, Adrian’s Case Manager, and Scarlet Grassie, Rainbows’ Interpreter, spoke with Maria about the Blarney Breakfast nomination, she was excited at the opportunity for her son and she immediately knew what Adrian needed. Adrian previously enjoyed riding the tricycle at school. Maria took a picture of the tricycle to Adrian’s pediatrician and the tricycle was approved as a form of exercise for Adrian.

A larger tricycle with a wider seat and helmet will allow Adrian to start exercising again. It will allow him to be active and go biking with his family and friends. “Rainbows has always helped me to connect to various services,” said Maria. “Whatever I requested, they have always helped me figure it out.”

Blarney Breakfast

Helping Osbaldo Communicate

Osbaldo is a sweet, affectionate, and loving child. He loves going to school and playing with other children. He loves to play basketball and swim at the YMCA. Osbaldo has Autism and sometimes struggles to communicate. He is able to use simple words but will rarely use phrases. Since he does not say phrases, his words can sound harsh and short.

Osbaldo’s parents speak Spanish and have appreciated working with Osbaldo’s Case Manager Hannah Wheeler along with Scarlet Grassie, Rainbows’ Interpreter.  Having Scarlet help during their meetings gives the family added confidence that Osbaldo’s needs and Hannah’s expertise are shared between everyone. 

The Communication Application made possible through funds raised at the Blarney Breakfast will help Osbaldo communicate in both Spanish and English. “I would love for Osbaldo to tell me how his day was in more detail,” said Erika, his mother. “Typically, when he is asked about his day he will only respond with Good or Bad. I want to know if he colored that day or went out to play. I work with him to speak in a polite manner instead of demanding. I’d also like him to learn to say please and thank you.” Osbaldo often has a hard time communicating his wants and needs. Sometimes when his family or caregivers cannot figure out what he wants he will scream and get upset.

“I also want Osbaldo to be able to communicate whether he is being harmed or mistreated in anyway,” said Erika. “It really concerns me that he can’t communicate if something bad were to happen to him.” Last year, the family experienced an incident that caused Osbaldo to come home crying and upset, but he was not able to tell his mother what happened. “He would come into the house, cry and hit the coffee table,” said Erika. “He was really upset and I was unable to console him.” Fortunately, it was just a misunderstanding that was easily worked out.

“I had never heard of Autism when Osbaldo was diagnosed,” said Erika. “Osbaldo’s pediatrician shared some information about what Autism was and what we should expect.” The family was connected with support groups in the community, one of them being Rainbows United. “I have felt so blessed to have such wonderful support and hope that my experience can help other families who are going through the same thing,” said Erika.

Karina Vargas, Targeted Case Manager

Dedication and Hard Work

“To me, all children no matter their background are equal and deserve the best quality life,” said Karina Vargas, Targeted Case Manager. “Rainbows is the place to make that happen. I love everything about my job.”

As a Targeted Case Manager, Karina’s days are never the same. They can differ from scheduling meetings, updating client files, having a visit at a home or in the community or at a school, or requesting funds for clients from community sources. “I once had to dig out a kid from the sand by the swing set that conveniently turned to quicksand from the rain that morning!” said Karina.  “He was stuck, then I was stuck.  Before we were able to get out, he ended up pantless and shoeless, then I was shoeless with wet pants and socks! To this day, this is one of my favorite memories.”

Karina brings a wealth of experience to the TCM team. “I have been in the childhood field for 13 years and never looked back,” she said.  “I have a history with Rainbows. I started working with Rainbows in 2007 when I was 19 for 4 years and came back in 2017 as a Targeted Case Manager. I have been a classroom Para and an Early Childhood Teacher for ages birth-5. I have been a Home/Community Based Teacher for children who are blind and visually impaired with ENVISION and now I’m a Targeted Case Manager with Rainbows. My biggest achievement at Rainbows has been using my bilingual skills to assist families.”

Karina has an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education, a Director’s License, and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Fort Hays State University. She plans to pursue her Master’s Degree. “Karina is one of the hardest working staff I have,” said Lindsay Coffee, Targeted Case Management/Autism Coordinator.  “She is quiet and reserved-a behind the scenes kind of gal- but she advocates for each child she serves in the very best way. I’m so thankful for her and her dedication!”

Watching good movies or TV series, listening to the right genre of music for specific occasions, telling her two boys “I love them with all of my heart to the moon and back 100 times a day,” eating favorite junk foods on the weekend, going to the gym, and sending the best memes to all her friends are some of Karina’s favorite things.