Sometimes a nightmare can turn into a dream come true.
When Findlay resident Christina Treece took her two autistic children, Gatlin and Draiman to a fall festival a few years ago, she was looking forward to treating her family to a fun day during her favorite season, but it wasn’t long after she arrived that everything started to go horribly wrong.
“…My boys didn’t understand the rules…,” Treece said. “Things got so bad I decided we had to go and I tried taking my little one to the car. He was kicking and screaming trying to get away from me and I accidentally set off the car alarm. I was trying to call my husband to help me bring our oldest son, but in the midst of that, a lady approached me thinking I was trying to kidnap my boy…I left in tears. I felt like a horrible mom for even trying to take them.”
Festival for Everyone
Treece, a mother of six, turned to her Facebook page and shared her distress over the situation. Several of her friends suggested she organize her own type of fall festival, and the idea really made sense. With her sons enrolled at Blanchard Valley School, she started there. And before long, “Friends of Blanchard Valley School” was born.
FOBVS officially started in May 2014. It is a parent/teacher/community organization (PTCO) for all children with developmental differences in Hancock County. The group works very closely with Blanchard Valley Center and the Hancock County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Friends of Blanchard Valley School currently serves as the PTCO for both Blanchard Valley School and The Center for Autism and Dyslexia. The group offers several school and public events throughout the year that are designed specifically for children with special needs. Special events include BVS Fall Fest, Winterfest, sensory-friendly movie nights, a book fair and a potluck and play.
Fundraiser to Help
The group conducts both public and school fundraisers to support its events and to also buy equipment for students and teachers, such as weighted vests to help students with sensory input, children-sized picnic tables for the playground, and materials for an edible food garden at the school.
Treece serves as the group’s president and says there are currently nine members on the board, along with a Facebook group of 30 members. Anyone is invited to help out or to join. Treece said she wants to see FOBVS continue to grow, and has enjoyed seeing the success the group has already experienced.
“Kids with special needs and their families deserve to be able to do all of the things that typical children do without feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, embarrassed, or stared at,” she said. “Since starting this group and taking my boys to all of our events I have seen a huge growth in their social and communication skills.”
For more information on FOBVS, you can visit its Facebook page or website at friendsofbvs.org