Free carnival extravaganza held for children with special needs Event to be held Aug. 2 at the new Spanaway Elementary, 215 S. 166th St. in Spanaway

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Parents can connect with other parents as well as enjoy watching happy children play and enjoy unique experiences such as riding a pony (donated by Graham’s Four Star Farm), playing musical squares, creating art or exploring a variety of textures in sensory pool and tubs. Photo courtesy of A Step Ahead

Community events aren’t always fun for everyone, especially for kiddos with special needs or disabilities. Parents of children with sensory sensitivity often avoid regular events such as family outings to parks and birthday parties because these events upset their children who may react to noise, busy environments and unpredictability. For 10 years, A Step Ahead in Pierce County has offered a community event and on Aug. 2 will be hosting a free carnival for infants and toddlers with special needs who are currently enrolled or graduated families. 

Just as no two children are the same, developmental delays often manifest in various ways: a delay may be identified at birth by a genetic or chromosomal difference (such as Down syndrome); an unexpected delay may appear as the child grows and milestones fall short; or an unfortunate traumatic event, such as an accident or prenatal drug exposure, may result in a temporary or permanent delay. 

For 17 years, A Step Ahead has been guiding a multi-disciplinary team comprised of early childhood special educators, pediatric therapists and infant mental health specialists, who provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers in Pierce County who are not developing on target. 

Come and join us for the party of the year! The carnival first began to help families enjoy a fun outing in a safe and supportive environment. The free event welcomes siblings and family members. A feeling of acceptance, tolerance and inclusion supports playful interactions throughout the event. Parents can connect with other parents as well as enjoy watching happy children play and enjoy unique experiences such as riding a pony (donated by Graham’s Four Star Farm), playing musical squares, creating art or exploring a variety of textures in sensory pool and tubs.

Many of our families are facing social and economic stressors not to mention the high cost of childcare, which is based on the individual child’s needs. Families are frequently responsible for co-pays, deductibles and the cost of services. To help with all these unrecovered costs, the CARES Fund was established and supports uncompensated care and wraparound services so that each child and family may receive the services needed to develop to their full potential regardless of ability to pay. CARES encompasses wraparound services such as financial aid, infant mental health services, community-based field trips and play groups, and BOOST, a program which offers home visiting services to infants and toddlers in foster care. BOOST supports the child’s difficult transition out of traumatic abuse and into safety and is the only program of its kind serving the Puget Sound region. 

Thanks to the Dimmer Family Foundation for their financial contribution and other generous donations, the 2018 carnival is offered to these families free of charge.

Get ready to be amazed, the 2018 Carnival Extravaganza will be the biggest one of them all. A Step Ahead will have a plethora of activities for infants and toddlers ages birth to 3 years of age and their siblings to enjoy. Marti Cates, who has organized the carnival event for the past 10 years said, “This is a happy event that everyone involved enjoys.” You don’t want to miss this one! Please bring sunscreen and dress accordingly for warm weather; it’s usually quite warm and sunny – perfect for a carnival. There will be a water feature this year so come prepared to get a little wet too.

The free 2018 carnival event will be held at the new Spanaway Elementary located at 215 S. 166th St. in Spanaway. Look for the A Step Ahead signs welcoming guests. For more information call (253) 471-2727, visit A Step Ahead on Facebook site or website at asapc.org. 

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