May 11, 2016: Direct care provider Dani Iorfino sets out paints, markers and paper for the children at Zach’s Time Playgroup. Iorfino said she enjoys the kids and “it feels good to end each day knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.” Photo by Susan Joy Paul
The sunny rooms at Zach’s Place in Mountain Shadows look like any other day care. Children snack on apple slices at a kid’s size table near the kitchen. In the big playroom, they gather for Zach’s Time Playgroup, to paint pictures, do puzzles, or sit quietly while Tammy Miklebost reads aloud. Today’s playgroup theme is “artists” and Miklebost is reading one of the children’s favorite books, “The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.” She is teaching the kids that it’s OK to paint a blue horse and to be a blue horse, too. It’s OK to be different.
Zach’s Place is a respite center that provides relief to families of children with disabilities. The facility caters to kids from 2 1/2 to 21 years old and is also a licensed child care center.
“Parents of children with disabilities don’t get a break,” said Miklebost, the assistant director. “They care for their children 24/7, and often times they don’t even get a night’s sleep. Zach’s Place is a safe place for them to bring their kids so they can do other things, and the children get to socialize and enjoy activities with other children their age.” Miklebost said sometimes a parent will bring their child in and ask where they should wait. “They’re surprised when we tell them they can leave. I tell them there’s a Starbucks down the street, or they can go shopping or get their hair done. These parents are not used to having time to themselves,” she said.
The center is open to children with disabilities and neurotypical children as well, offering before and after school, overnight and weekend care. Miklebost believes it’s important for people to learn acceptance at a young age, and she encourages playtime and socialization between children across the entire spectrum of neurological development. “These are the kids that don’t always get invited to birthday parties, so they miss out on opportunities to interact with other children,” she said.
Every other Monday, the center hosts Zach’s Time Playgroup from 9 a.m. to noon for children 2 1/2 to 5 years old. The playgroup has a theme, and the first session is free. Subsequent playtimes cost $20 and children are treated to stories, crafts and a snack.
Article provided by Susan Joy Paul, Cheyenne Edition 5.11.16 (page 6) – click here to read full article