In 2003, a group of moms with preschool aged children participated in a support group for parents of children with special needs. Over the school year, we leaned on, and learned from, each other. When the school year ended, we wanted a way to continue the support and friendship that had been built among the moms, and extend that opportunity to dads, children and siblings.
With the help of a special educator, we started what was then called Northshore Special Families, a volunteer organization. Our goal was to provide nurturing and safe spaces that would allow children with disabilities and their siblings to play with each other, and give the parents an opportunity to connect. Eventually, we changed our name to Northwest Special Families to better represent the geographical region our programs serve. Over the years, Northwest Special Families hosted parent dinners, family events in the community, Moms Spa Nights, summer bike camps, teen events, SibShops, Lego club, Summer Pals and parent presentations.
As our children enter adulthood, their social needs and our families’ needs are changing. Our organization is adapting to meet these needs. In 2016 we incorporated in Washington as a non-profit called My Village Northwest. Our goal is still the same; to create social and support opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. And we still produce our two main events each year: Special Santa in December and the Can Do 5K in April. But we have added the additional goals of cultivating employment and housing options in the Northshore and surrounding areas and organizations to develop meaningful inclusion opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.