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Parkway Church opens play day to special needs children

By JR Ortega
April 10, 2010 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated April 9, 2010 at 11:10 p.m.

Beau Blackwood, 4, plays at the Wonder Kids event held by Parkway Church. The event allowed special needs parents to drop off their kids off for a few hours, allowing them some free time that they wouldn't normally have Saturday.

Tears welled up in Laura Blackwood's eyes Saturday afternoon, when she dropped her 4-year-old son off for a play day at Parkway Church.

"It was nice for me to have a little break," Blackwood said. She had her son, Beau, who has special needs, stay at the church so she could have some time to relax.

"It's very, very hard to find caregivers or babysitters," she added.

Wonderkids, a program at the church for special needs children, put on the play day for the first time this year, said Kristi Hurt, team leader of play day.

The idea of the event was to allow parents respite care, or care that supports families who cope and deal with a disabled child.

At least 35 volunteers were at the church spending time with the children.

Heather Keller, 16, volunteered to spend time playing games with the children.

She spent most of the time with Beau, who has Apraxia and autism, which limits his ability to communicate.

"They're some of the sweetest kids," said the Memorial High School student as she watched Beau play with some toy ducks. "He's so cute."

At least 1 out of every 110 kids develops autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Blackwood knows many parents are out there who are not aware of what programs and events are provided for children with special needs, she said.

"Victoria is a smaller town and and more things like this is fabulous," she said.

About nine kids watched movies, played with volunteers and played games throughout Saturday.

The goal was to have close to 30 kids, but with this being the time the event was held, Hurt was happy.

"It's been wonderful," she said. "We've heard a great response from the families."

Blackwood truly appreciated the event and hopes it goes on and grows as time goes by, she said.

"It's a blessing," she said. "It's truly a gift from God."



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