MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Special Education PTSA’s third annual Resource Fair and Family Fun Night on Wednesday, Oct. 17, presented attendees with new vendors and new activities in a new location.
Jessie Atkins, president of the Marysville Special Education PTSA, expressed her gratitude to Totem Middle School for working with her group to host the event in previous years, but she believes that Cedarcrest Middle School provides a bit more room and clearer entryways to prevent confusion on the part of families looking to stop by during its three-hour running time that afternoon.
“Everyone’s been wonderfully supportive,” Atkins said, praising the estimated two dozen volunteers who helped stage the event as well, including Marysville middle and high school students. “The donations we got were too awesome to be just door prizes, so that inspired us to do the silent auction this year.”
The donors included not only the participating vendors, but also several area businesses and other organizations and individuals. Atkins also incorporated the silent auction into this year’s Resource Fair to add the Family Fun Night component for families who might have been put off by the first part of its title.
“People hear ‘Resource Fair’ and they might think, ‘Oh, that’s for folks on welfare, so I wouldn’t qualify,’” Atkins said. “We want this to feel inclusive. Some of our vendors, such as the Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center in Stanwood, don’t just serve the disabled.”
Warm Beach, which was represented for the first time at the Resource Fair this year by Disabilities Ministries Director Laurie Fertello, nonetheless focuses on providing safe and supportive day-camp experiences for those with disabilities 15 years and older.
“Every camper has at least one staff member to serve as their buddy, so in an average day of 50 campers, we’ve got about 60-70 staff buddies,” said Fertello, who’s always looking to recruit more volunteers. “It expands the horizons of campers and their buddies.”
Fertello hopes Warm Beach will eventually be able to offer overnight stays for campers with disabilities, but in the meantime she encouraged those with questions to log onto www.warmbeach.com.
Claudia Lowe, owner of Los Ninos Daycare in Marysville, not only offers 24/7 daycare services to children with and without disabilities, but also informed attendees that many parents might qualify for subsidized care who don’t realize it, due to recent back-and-forth renegotiations over state funding.
“Thousands of folks lost their care, and many of them had to choose between their children’s safety and their own jobs,” said Lowe, who can be reached via email at email@example.com. “Because that eligibility for subsidized care was bumped back up, though, you might not have to send your children home alone.”
Declan Loertscher, 12, has made tremendous strides with his autism just since the last Resource Fair, according to his mother Rachel. While Declan looked up from his video game to greet those who said hello to him with a smile in return, Rachel explained how behavioral therapy is often inadequate to meet the social adjustment needs of autistic children.
“It’s harder to rate the effectiveness of socialization therapy, which is why insurance doesn’t cover it,” Rachel Loertscher said. “It’s more subjective, but he’s made leaps and bounds through it.”
Ultimately, one of the more useful functions of events such as the Resource Fair, according to Lori Schneider and Sylvia Stevenson of the Down Syndrome Association of Snohomish County, is that it helps families feel like they’re not alone in their experiences.
“Parents who have been through this can tell parents who are just starting this journey that their own kids turned out happy and well-adjusted,” Stevenson said. “It’s challenging, but a joy at the same time.”