Since the doors at Children’s Village first opened 20 years ago, thousands of children with special needs and their families have been served in a welcoming place that unites multiple avenues of specialty care under one colorful roof. All with the goal of helping to ease the strain on families who are often overwhelmed, and serving those families right where they live – here in the Yakima Valley.
Children’s Village began as a vision among key community organizations and dedicated volunteers to meet the special health care needs of area children and their families. As a collaboration between Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Virginia Mason Memorial, Comprehensive Healthcare and The Memorial Foundation, the Village — thanks to the commitment of the Yakima Valley community — provides medical, dental, and behavioral services to children from birth to 18 with special health care needs such as autism and Down syndrome. There are peer support groups for parents and siblings, team sports, social events, and a spring prom for the kids and teens. There’s even family swim night hosted at the therapy pool.
Through its unique blend of services, the Village has helped thousands of children live fuller, more independent lives. In 2016, the Village served nearly 5,000 children with special needs, five times as many as were served in 1998, the first full year it was open.
The Village is a welcoming place, putting anxious children at ease as soon as they enter. Walls are bright and cheerful; preserved trees dot the hallways; the elevator resembles a mine shaft; the reception desk is inside a covered wagon; and a large meeting room is contained in a barn.
The ability to continue changing lives over the next 20 years and serve even more families in need is largely dependent on community support. And that’s where The Memorial Foundation’s work to grow and enrich Children’s Village continues. The Village has never been sustained solely by reimbursement. It depends on grants and charitable donations from the community through The Memorial Foundation.
Despite these challenges, however, Children’s Village remains a unique facility not just for a community of Yakima’s size, but anywhere. More than anything, it is a place for children to be children first. Everyone at Children’s Village believes the same thing: Help kids be the very best kids they can be.