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We took a trip to The Children’s Center in Salt Lake City. I have always wanted to raise a family that knew the joy of service. I’m not going to lie, it has been hard finding service opportunities that little kids can do. Most homeless shelters don’t want kids in the kitchen and most service projects are just a little too intense for a two year old. But, we searched high and low this season and found a few that I’m really excited to share with you!

Today I want to tell you about The Children’s Center. This place is doing such great things for some deserving little kids and they deserve all the help they can get!

The Children’s Center provides mental health care for families with young children. They provide all sorts of resources for families including family therapy, therapy for children who have experienced traumatic events, integrated autism programs and a therapeutic preschool.

The therapeutic preschool at The Children’s Center has about 350 students, all of which have some sort of diagnosed mental health disorder. Most of their kids have a trauma induced mental health disorder and most of the trauma induced mental health disorders are due to abuse or neglect. When we heard this, I got teary eyed. Every kid deserves a kind and loving environment with all the love they can handle. It’s heartbreaking to see such sweet kids struggle because of something an adult did to them. I wanted to reach through the observation glass and give every single one of them a huge hug. But then I saw how caring and kind the teachers and volunteers were and I realized they are getting the love and care they need right here at The Children’s Center.

The Children’s Center preschool focuses on giving kids a caring and consistent environment while teaching them the emotional and behavioral skills they need to thrive in a traditional classroom or daycare. Mastering these skills is really the key to success for these kids. Once they have been given the skills to handle their emotional and behavioral problems, they can move onto a traditional preschool or daycare and have every ounce of success they desire.

The Children’s Center is the right place for these kids. One tour of the building makes that very clear. They have classrooms specifically designed for kids with mental health disorders. They have a “calm down” room where kids can go, with a trained professional, and learn to work out their feelings.

They have an indoor playground that would make any mom in winter jealous.

They have an art room that made my 5 year old’s mouth drop.  

They also have a room called the “laundry room” which of course has a washer and dryer but also has a large wall filled with clothes for kids attending the preschool. Many of the kids in the school are toilet training and need a change of clothes after an accident. If a therapist works with a child and senses a need for clothing, they come to this room to provide them with the clothing they need. One child came to the preschool wearing nothing but pajamas. He wasn’t toilet trained and needed diapers and clothing. The staff was able to come to this room and provide that boy with diapers and multiple outfits so he didn’t have to come to school in his pajamas.

They’re doing great things here at The Children’s Center and these kids are so deserving.

So…how can you help?

Here are a few ideas.

Clean Toys

Indie and Maya, kid fashion bloggers from The Little Lovelies, joined us to wash toys. Indie showed up to wash toys in this awesome outfit and I about died. She’s such a fashion forward kid.

Washing toys at The Children’s Center was such a good way to teach my kids that service can be a lot of fun. They filled a big sink with water and soap for us, let us choose how many toys we wanted to wash and then left us to our washing. The girl’s were in heaven dumping toys into the big sink, washing them, and then carrying them to the drying table. They got soaking wet and loved every minute of it.

Since the room is big and uncluttered, my little guy could crawl around freely while we washed toys. It’s seriously the most family friendly service opportunity out there!

Donate Needed Items

Children respond to therapy best when they are warm, well nourished and have engaging toys and activities. Donating clothing, toys, supplies and food from their wish list to help keep their shelves stocked can be a great way to help the children thrive.

Provide Child Care During Social Skills Groups

Often children who come to Social Skills Groups have siblings that need childcare while their parents attend Social Skills Groups with them. These groups meet on Wednesdays and Fridays for about an hour and fifteen minutes and would love your help watching kids.    

If you’d like to learn more, check out The Children’s Center’s Volunteer page or contact Leslie Durham at ldurham@tccslc.org.

Brittney

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