The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years

Camp Woodchuck Re-Imagined

Woodchuck Adventure 2020: A Safe Summer Experience

Madison Jacobs has been working as a Rainbows’ Direct Service Provider for a little over 2 years and has navigated the challenges of providing After-School Latchkey and Camp Woodchuck at Kids’ Cove to now serving as a Lead DSP providing services for this year’s Rainbows’ Summer Services Program.  “Before this job, I had no previous experience working with kids and am really grateful to Rainbows for giving me the opportunity to grow myself and influence different kids’ lives,” she said.

“Before the pandemic, for a normal workday I started in the classroom by making the daily schedule and pairing up kids and staff to hang out together that day,” said Maddie.  “I also set up all kinds of fun activities, usually a variation of art and science activities, for the kids to do when they got to Rainbows.” 

Due to concerns with COVID-19, this year’s summer program, Woodchuck Adventure 2020, was adapted into an in-home Summer Camp experience.  “This year for Camp we have been creating a weekly plan of activities that the staff come and pick up,” said Maddie.  “The packets include everything they need for that week to do the hands-on activities one-on-one with their buddies and also the schedule of virtual activities for the kids.” 

“Last year I loved playing basketball, going on field trips and playing board games with all the kids in my room,” said Maddie.  “This summer, staff members are playing basketball, doing crafts and playing board games with the kids at their homes and going on field trips virtually.” 

Virtual activities include the annual Fashion Show, Talent Show and Art Show, a graduation award ceremony and virtual field trips to exotic locations such as Hawaii and a rain forest. “It has been very different for the kids and staff not being in a building with other people,” said Maddie.  “The kids definitely miss seeing their friends, but we’re connecting through the virtual activities. The staff also miss seeing each other, but we’re proud to continue providing services safely in the family homes.”

“My favorite part of the job is getting to know all the different personalities of each kid and understanding the things they love,” said Maddie.  “It’s different, but we still get to know the personalities and favorites of the kids.”

Maddie keeps busy in her off time. “I really enjoy playing with my dogs, going on runs, and maybe the weirdest- going to school!” said Maddie.  She is pursuing a degree in biology with an emphasis in medicine at Wichita State University, with the hope to go to medical school after graduating.

Coleen Jennison, Board Member

Bringing the Rainbows' mission to life

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - that is to have succeeded.”  Though the world is pretty topsy-turvy these days, to say the least, there has been an opportunity to slow down and have the time to reflect on those things that we hold most significant.

During these unprecedented times, people have experienced great sadness, but also great joy. There have been some who have lost loved ones, and others who have welcomed new babies.  People who have had the time to teach their child to ride a bike and others that have worried about their children who have been unable to receive their much-needed services.  Not those served by Rainbows.  Rainbows staff won’t even let a pandemic stand in the way of serving their kiddos.  They’ve adapted, pivoted, done whatever it takes to deliver.  They are telecommuting, providing virtual therapies and greatly easing the minds of parents.

When I joined the board almost five years ago, it was because the mission resonated with me.  “Rainbows United enhances the lives of children with special needs and their families by bringing together community resources and providing customized services.”  For 48 years now, “Rainbows has brought potential to life by elevating the uniqueness of children and their families.”  Five years later, it’s about how I have witnessed that mission brought to life. 

Simply put, I think Rainbows brings hope to families who need it the most. I believe the services truly change the lives of children.   My fellow board members always have the mission top of mind and act accordingly.  The staff is so completely committed to their work – they always find a way, no matter what, to do the right thing for their clients.  Deb Voth calls that the “Rainbows Way.”  What a wonderful world it would be indeed if we all did things the Rainbows Way. 

So, if Ralph is at all right about the definition of success, the people of Rainbows are the most successful people I know.  To play even the smallest role in delivering that hope, is truly an honor. 

Rainbows' Infant/Toddler Services

Recommended by NICU doctors, I called Rainbows to help my baby

“Rainbows has been with us through this journey since the day I brought Drake home,” said Ashton, Drake's mom. “Not having them available with all the help and love they have given, I would be lost.  He has grown so much in the last three years doing things we never thought he would.” 

Drake was born March 18, 2017 and spent his first 134 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “Our doctor from the NICU recommended I get in touch with Rainbows the moment we left the hospital because Drake would need therapy from the get go,” said Ashton, Drake’s mom.  “So August 1, 2017 I got in touch with them to come help my baby get the services he needed.” 

Drake has Cerebral Palsy on the left side of his body due to Grade 4 brain damage on the right side of the brain.  He also has hydrocephalus, a condition that occurs when fluid builds up in the skull and causes the brain to swell.  Drake had to get four taps before he could get a shunt placed, as well as had to get it revised after going home from the hospital. 

Drake receives services through a Rainbows’ Infant/Toddler Services team that includes a Physical Therapist, an Occupational Therapist and a Speech Language Pathologist.  “The progress we have made so far is amazing, especially considering the doctors didn't think he would be able to do any of these things when we left the hospital,” said Ashton.  

“Drake can hold his head up now, he rolls around, army crawls, gets around in different ways that get him from point A to point B,” said Ashton. “He has so many words and learns new words every day, and he has started putting a few together to make short sentences.  Rainbows has even taught me how to help Drake eat. He eats different foods now. He still can’t really chew up the foods, but he is learning how to move his food around more in order to get it broken up enough to eat.”

“Drake is a charming sweetheart who captures the hearts of those around him,” said his Rainbows’ therapists, Gail Laochinda, Dawna Weed and Beth Watkins.  “He loves games and hugs with his family and fan club.  He is very adept at communicating what he wants and how he wants to play.  It has been so fun to watch Drake grow and learn new things!”

“They have helped my son so much in just day to day life,” said Ashton. “They have provided so many other programs and help for him to be the best he can be. They helped me get equipment I couldn't afford. They were always there to help me through. They have impacted our lives in so many ways words can’t even explain.” 

Drake has a little brother, Oakley, who also receives services through Rainbows. Oakley has autism and is deaf in his right ear. “Rainbows is an amazing organization,” said Ashton.  “They help so many families, and I don't think that enough people know how much it really means to families like mine. The staff is welcoming, loving and patient, and they are very passionate about every single child and family they help.  They are always there to even just talk. The whole team and organization is truly amazing.” 

“Drake shows you what true happiness is,” said Ashton.  “He is a very joyful boy, learning new ways to do things even though they might be hard to overcome. There is always a way! There is never a day that child does not show how much he loves his life.” 

Happy Birthday Rainbows

48 Years of Making a Difference in the Lives of Children with Special Needs and their Families

Rainbows is celebrating another birthday today, June 8 and it is a great time to reflect on both its history and the current situation we find ourselves in. Who could have predicted Rainbows growth from a church basement with a few children to a multi-building, multi-county entity who serves hundreds of families and children every year? From center based only into a multi-program entity that help families with their children from birth to 21 years? Rainbows serves families where they need it. This is something to be proud of and I am. Rainbows makes a difference; we make a difference. Rainbows has weathered several storms so far and will continue to, and we grow and change. We move forward. 

I have been blessed to be a service provider for Rainbows. I have been challenged to grow with each child and family I encounter. I have accepted that I will never know all there is to know and that even after 20+ years it is still okay to say, “I don’t know, but I will try to find out.” It is okay to laugh and cry with those we serve and our co-workers. I do save my tears for a final visit until I reach my car. I want a family to leave our services with hope in their heart, pride in their accomplishments and a smile on their face. Rainbows made a difference, and it is time for them to move forward. 

I have also been blessed to be a consumer of Rainbows services. The wonderful staff at Kids’ Point Early Child Care and Education cared for, protected and helped my youngest child as teachers, paras and as friendly faces in the hall. She was encouraged to use her words by her Infant/Toddler Services staff. To this day, she remembers her class time and hallway buddies (you know who you are) with great fondness. Rainbows made a difference, and she moved forward. 

Rainbows moves forward as well. Our current position of providing services through COVID-19 is a prime example. Our center based services have continued in much altered circumstances and done it well. Our home based services are through teletherapy and that has a unique set of challenges. It has made me relook at how I coach and work with families. Recently, a family that I see stated, “you are the only one who has still seen us.” They have multiple services in the community and this simple statement made my heart swell. Yes, I was through a screen, but this family still had concerns and Rainbows, through me, was still there. It looked different, it felt different but it still made a difference. We make a difference. 

So to Rainbows, I say “Happy Birthday.” We are vintage and we make a difference. Let’s keep moving forward. 

By Angela Pulaski, Physical Therapist, Infant/Toddler Services, Butler County

Children’s Mental Health

Helping our children learn to manage emotions effectively

Dealing with children’s negative behaviors and temper tantrums is a challenge for most parents. As parents we want the behavior to stop. To accomplish this, we may place a child in time out for throwing things or hitting, ignore them when they are crying, or try to explain why the behavior is wrong. These strategies may prove to be effective in the short term but until we get to the reason behind the behaviors, we can’t truly begin to help our children learn to manage emotions effectively.

It is important to look at children’s behaviors as a means of communication. Through their behavior, children try to tell us how they are feeling. When we don’t look at the reasons behind the misbehavior, we are missing an important opportunity to teach children more positive ways to express themselves.  

There are many reasons why a child might throw a tantrum or become aggressive.  Some of these include:
-    Feeling tired, hungry or sick 
-    Not able to verbalize or communicate what they need or want
-    Frustration for not being able to complete or master a task
-    Overstimulated or overwhelmed
-    They haven’t yet learned socially acceptable expectations in a situation

Think about this following example, a child is trying to put together a puzzle, but can’t get the pieces to fit. At a young age they probably don’t have the ability to verbalize that they are frustrated. Instead they might throw the toy or begin crying. Parents may often say “Don’t throw your toy or I will take it away” or “Stop crying.” The child may become more frustrated and the behavior escalates and parents may continue to scold, keeping emotions high. 

Instead this is a great opportunity to help our children begin to recognize these feelings, find alternative ways to deal with them, and build a relationship where they know they can come to us for help when they have “big” feelings in the future. 

So an alternative response for the above situation might be “You’re mad you couldn’t fit in the puzzle piece, we have to be safe with our toys, would you like some help?”  And offer them a nurturing response, hug them, help them through the frustration by taking some deep breaths.  

Remember, children aren’t born with the ability to regulate their emotions, but as parents it is very important we teach this skill just like we would teach colors or how to read.  So the next time, your child misbehaves, take a deep breath before reacting and try to recognize the reason for the behavior and make the best of this opportunity to teach your child. Remember behaviors have meaning!

By Cindie Silmon, LCMFT – Mental Health Specialist
Cindie Silmon, LCMFT became a Mental Health Specialist at Rainbows United in January of 2014. She currently works in family homes supporting parents of infants and toddlers in our Attachment Bio-behavioral Catch-up service.