by Leslie Horton, Director, Yavapai County Community Health Services
Yavapai is a rural county, and it can be difficult to navigate the resources available, especially for those seeking special needs resources for their children. Although the Prescott area is rapidly growing and more services and resources are offered here, some specialized health services still require travel to either Flagstaff or Phoenix.
In response, Yavapai County Community Health Services is launching a project, called the Yavapai Special Needs Support Network (YSNSN), with funding from the Arizona Department of Health Services’ Office of Children with Special Health Care Needs.
The intent is to increase visibility of this prevalent community in Yavapai County. It is envisioned that with increased visibility, more resources will expand from Maricopa and Coconino counties into Yavapai.
This new network will allow parents to connect with each other and organizations to meet the specific needs of their children. Furthermore, it is hoped this increased awareness will increase safety measures taken by the community to be aware of the needs of all residents. The Children & Teens DisABILITIES Support Fair is an introduction to this network.
Kirsten Slora, an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) member, relocated from the suburbs of Chicago to Prescott for this project last summer. Since being a member of the Yavapai County community she has been amazed by the enthusiasm local parents have for this project. The parents have been providing contact information and useful information on what Yavapai County specifically needs to support children with autism and developmental disabilities, including a network and an event like the one she is planning.
The health fair is scheduled for March 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Coyote Springs Elementary School in Prescott Valley for families who have children with disabilities or other special health care needs. At the family-friendly fair there will be vendors, presentations and sensory activities (plus free food). The resources provided at the fair are primarily geared toward individuals up to age 22, with information on early childhood development to vocational training.
There is no cost to attend, but registration is required on EventBrite. More information is available there, on Facebook Events or at www.specialneedsyavapai.online.
The fair will have nearly 20 vendors, including Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), Horses with Heart, Aurora Behavioral Health System, Susan Marks & Advocates PLLC, Sunrise Therapy Services (AzEIP), and many more. Additionally, there will be informative presentations given by Catholic Charities Community Services, First Things First, and Child & Family Support Services.
Park Avenue Theater will also be introducing its peer-based special needs theater group Applause, which will be giving a performance to attendees. We hope that if you have or care for children with special needs, you will come enjoy the event and learn about great local resources available to you.