Children pose for a group photo with YCSO’s Deputy Do-Right and the Horses with HEART mascot during a Christmas party Saturday for special-needs kids and their families at Chino Valley American Legion.
|Left photo: Malachi Ray, 7, of Phoenix, checks out the inside of a fire engine with firefighter Timothy Gallman during a Christmas party Saturday for special-needs kids and their families at Chino Valley American Legion.|
Right photo:Yates Hutchinson, 6, left, and Sarah Nichols, 13, of Prescott Valley hug the Horses with HEART mascot.
Chino Valley Review
Lots of special guests made appearances at the annual Special Needs Christmas party Saturday hosted by the Chino Valley American Legion.
Santa came to see the kids, along with Deputy Do-Right, the Horses with HEART mascot, Mayor Chris Marley and three firemen and their fire truck. The kids also decorated gingerbread cookies, played games and had pizza. OK, that's one awesome kid party!
The best thing, however, that parents and organizers had to say about the party was that it's an activity for the entire family, which doesn't happen often for families with special-needs kids.
"Special-needs kids have activities just for them and their neuro-typical siblings (non-special-needs siblings) have theirs. There's not much they can do altogether as a family. This is a family event together," said Suzanne Vicory of Chino Valley, who started an advocacy and awareness group called "Autistic Kids" five years ago in the quad-city area when her daughter, Beth, was diagnosed with autism. However since starting the group, Vicory opened the group up to families of children with any disability. Beth, now 11, is one of Suzanne's main party planners and helped with the games and wrapping gifts for another event.
Parent Tanya Hutchinson of Chino Valley says the Christmas party is fun for both her children because they get to play with kids their own age in an environment where they feel comfortable and, therefore, are more outgoing. She and her husband, Julio, have two children - Shaylyn, 7, who has a disability and was busy playing a bean bag toss a game at the party, and Yates, 6, who ran to meet and hug each new guest as they arrived.
"They make it real for Christmas," Hutchinson said of the party planners. "They had Santa and they had the mayor read the Nativity story. That made it real."