Kiwanis has a long, deep rooted history of supporting children in our communities and around the world. For over 100 years, we have given our time, money, clothes, books, safety equipment, medical assistance, and life experiences to thousands of children each year. As Kiwanians, when we see children in need, we show up.
The SouthWest Kiwanis Club of Spokane, along with eleven other Kiwanis clubs in the greater Spokane area have joined together to support the efforts of Joya Child & Family Development to build a new inclusive outdoor playground.
Like our club members, many of you have children, and can remember those joyous moments when our newborns took to the nipple, or when we felt them squeeze our finger for the first time, or when they first turned their head at the sound of our voices. We smiled in satisfaction when, after each well visit, the pediatrician told us that everything was fine, and our children were developing normally, but imagine how different our stories would be if none of those milestones happened. Imagine confusion, worry and self-doubt flooding your thoughts as every instinct you have is telling you something is not right with your baby’s development. The self-doubt and guilt as you try to ignore the thoughts that something is not right with your child. The heartbreak and desperation to make sense of the diagnosis that your child has a disability. The feelings of grief, confusion, and fear; grief over the loss of the life you had envisioned and planned for your child, confusion as you try to understand what is happening, and fear of what happens next.
In Spokane, we are fortunate to have Joya to help guide and support children and families in these moments, to help families learn to care and advocate for these special children for the rest of their lives.
Our club does not have the story of just one child or family to share; we have hundreds. Each year over 300 children and families in Spokane County seek support in Joya’s early intervention programs and services. Joya Child & Family Development is a non-profit, family-based pediatric care facility that operates year-round. The facility provides comprehensive evaluations and assessments of children with developmental delays and disabilities from birth to age three. Following the assessment, the team of specialists develop a tailored treatment plan designed to meet the individual needs of each child and their family. Research has found that intervention during the first three years of life is key. Having the right care and treatment provides the greatest opportunity for many of these children to close the gap developmentally with their peers.
Not every child needs to use the services of the facility for all three years. Many children begin their programs and thrive, while others need additional support and care. Joya is in the midst of a capital campaign to build a new facility that would allow them to expand their services, doubling their support to more than 600 children in Spokane County annually. To date, Joya has been awarded $18.5 million in state funding, donations, and grants to build a new facility, which includes an indoor play area but needs additional support to provide a safe outdoor playground, where children with special needs can explore and socialize in the fresh air with their peers.
The benefits of this new playground go far beyond “play.” Playgrounds positively impact cognitive development, motor planning, risk assessment (as a young child navigates a small stumble, they tend to learn the risk of bigger tumbles), balance, strength, and endurance. Joya’s new playground has been designed to promote motor exploration of our young population. Support from Kiwanis is dedicated toward the purchase of new specially designed playground equipment including; climbing structures (to help develop strength, balance, and motor planning skills), adaptive swings (that encourage children to use their arms to hold on, core muscles to keep their trunk upright, neck muscles to stabilize their head while moving, and vision to scan their surroundings), and slides (with varied step heights and ramps that allow the child to get to the “top” and go down the slide).
The playground will be dedicated to the late Barbara Thomas, one our first female members who was active in many roles over the years and admired by all who knew her.
Joya will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the playground, so there is no maintenance plan that the Spokane Kiwanis will be responsible for. However, Kiwanis will continue to stay engaged with the project and the site, by helping with gardening, cleanup, etc. around the perimeter and gates of the playground, which run along the Centennial Trail.
The total cost to complete the build of this inclusive outdoor playground is $230,000.
To date, our clubs have raised $67,500 toward the $138,000 price tag on the playground equipment, and with your help, we will be on track to reach our goal by July 2022.
We appreciate your time and consideration of this essential project.