Nearly 200 people attended the UC Davis MIND Institute’s second annual back-to-school picnic and talent showcase Saturday, Aug. 24. The event is part of a series called Family Time at the MIND meant to provide a comfortable, sensory-friendly space for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families.
“We started Family Time at the MIND so families in our community could come together,” said Erin Roseborough, MIND Institute child life specialist and volunteer coordinator. “They don’t have to be a patient or a program participant – we welcome everyone.”
During the lunchtime event, families enjoyed picnic-style foods like sandwiches and watermelon, played games and did crafts. After their meal, attendees were awed by Conservation Ambassadors’ wildlife show that included a lemur, a skunk, and several birds. The talent showcase featured about 10 kids and young adults who sang, danced, played piano, and showed off other skills like drawing and video gaming.
“It’s important to connect families who are going down a similar road,” said Roseborough. “These events give families opportunities to spend quality time together and make new friends.”
Upon coming and going from the event, participants could view shiny, spotless cars that lined the MIND Institute’s parking lot. For the second year, local car club NorCal Challengers, brought their beautiful vehicles out and made a generous donation, which funds four Family Time events each year: Fall Festival, Movie Night, Game Night, and the Back-to-School Picnic.
For parents of kids with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities, having a safe space to be themselves is important.
"Family Time at the MIND provides an environment where there’s no need for parents to say, ‘I’m sorry’,” said Roseborough. “We all understand each other – there’s no need to apologize for a child’s behavior.”