Sunday, February 23, 2014

Up With Families

Our little family spent the weekend at a nearby hotel for a special needs retreat called Up With Families. The organization exists solely to put on this one event each year. Any family in the area who has a child with special needs (of ANY kind) can apply for a spot of up to about 30 families to come to their annual retreat. But each family can only come once and their child has to be seven or younger.  

At first I was a little unsure. The retreat happened to fall on the weekend of Leah's 7th birthday and the last thing I wanted was for her to be somewhere she didn't want to be with people she didn't even know. For a good portion of the time, Ryan and I would be in seminars and meetings for parents only! But, I really felt it would be a good thing for our family to do together since we were new to the area...and this was the last year we were eligible based on Leah's age. 

Turns out, there was no better place we could have been to celebrate her big No. 7. Leah spent the weekend swimming, bowling, playing games, watching movies and just having some serious fun. We opened a few presents in our hotel room during a mid-day break on Saturday and then she went on her way again! 

They had activities specific to special needs kids (or ways to adapt everything), sensory rooms, and more. And they also gave equal attention to the typical siblings, which was so wonderful. These siblings are amazing and often get put on the back burner, so it was fun to see them being celebrated too!

They had a photographer there to take photos of each family and they even offered a 30 minute chair massage. Um, yes please!

Saturday night there was a nice dinner and program for the parents that went past the girls' bedtimes. The volunteers were prepared to put the kids to sleep if needed. So, when Ryan and I went back to the hotel room we weren't surprised to find two volunteers, chatting quietly in the dark, while Leah slept soundly on the bed. She was wiped out! We were, however, shocked to find that Kate wasn't in the room. We ventured back out to the kid's room and sure enough, Kate was running around like a crazy person. At 10:00 at night! 

We learned some valuable information about special needs in our area and met some wonderful people who I know we will continue to keep in contact with. I hope to continue to be a part of this great organization for a long time! 

When we got home Sunday afternoon, Leah was wiped out. This is the sign of a fulfilling, feel-good, fun and UPlifting weekend. 

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