Helping Hands – Variety KC Celebrates Moms and Kids By HERLIFE Magazine
Written by Lorri Stanislav
Original story HERE
Mother’s Day can be different for mothers of children with physical or cognitive disabilities. Their child may not be able to say “I love you, Mom,” or celebrate the day actively playing outdoors. For many children with special needs and their families, inclusion and ease of belonging is impossible.
This Mother’s Day, Variety KC celebrates those moms, those kids…and every kid! You see, Variety is passionate about inclusion, annually serving kids with over 70 different kinds of disability, and children without disabilities.
According to Variety Executive Director Deborah Wiebrecht, the KC community is not only changing, but leading the way in inclusive efforts. “In recent years we have seen amazing growth. Variety has partnered with the Royals Charities to build not just adaptive but inclusive ball fields in Independence and Olathe. Now, adjoining those fields – inclusive playgrounds designed with input from the children themselves! Plus, another playground will open this year in the Northland,” explains Wiebrecht.
This focus on inclusiveness is in response to an overwhelming need. A 501(c)(3), Variety’s primary mission at one time was mobility, providing equipment and resources when no one else would. Then they added assistive technology to their mission, giving non-verbal kids a voice. What they discovered was that even with all these pieces in place, devices, family support, physical ability, there was no opportunity to engage with friends, neighbors and the community!
What started as a way to involve and connect Variety families – tickets to sporting events, movie outings, pumpkin patch visits – expanded to large-scale efforts such as ball fields and parks to provide inclusive experiences for all children, all families.
Wiebrecht explains that every mother’s child benefits through inclusiveness, which is the understanding of differences, compassion, tolerance and acceptance. Children just want to play! They want to create, socialize, interact and imagine. Faced with a challenge or physical hurdle, they quickly find a way to adapt and get right back to the business of playing. It is up to us, all of us, to make sure they have these opportunities.
How can you help? Variety encourages mothers to start by including their own kids. Make them aware. Then make a plan to help. Maybe it’s a neighborhood fundraiser or an opportunity to volunteer at events. Whatever the plan, the first step is a commitment to reach out and include all children in your daily play and activities.
What else could any mother ask for? HLM