Event focused on neurodevelopmental disabilities featured free school supplies, crafts, animals and community vendors
A record number of people came to the UC Davis MIND Institute’s biggest ever back-to-school resource fair last weekend. About 365 people of all ages enjoyed interacting with the more than 20 community vendors who took part in the free event, which was open to the public. Everything was centered around resources for people with neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome.
Families enjoyed free pizza or sandwiches for lunch, crafts, an animal show, magic show and more. Activities took place both inside the MIND Institute and outside in the parking lot.
“This event was so successful!” said Erin Roseborough, a child life specialist who helped to plan the event. “The turnout was incredible, and people were able to make meaningful connections while also having a great time. We are grateful to the community vendors who shared their time and resources with families.”
Vendors included the Sacramento Public Library, Warmline Family Resource Center, the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities, Gigi’s Playhouse, Alta Regional Center, La Familia Counseling Center, the Sacramento Children’s Museum and many more.
Among the attractions was Gabe Kerschner from the Conservation Ambassadors’ Wild Things program. He brought a variety of animals to show the crowd, including a Brown Lemur, Burmese Python and Great Horned Owl. The Amazing Pepe also put on a magic show for families.
We are passionate about hosting these events because we understand the need for inclusion, family-centered care and meaningful childhood experiences for all kids. We dedicate ourselves to creating experiences for families to attend as they are, without having to adapt to our environment. Instead, we design events around their needs.”
The child life team also hosted activity stations where kids could build glitter tubes or wooden arts and crafts. Cornhole and other games were also available to play.
Each family received a tote bag of school supplies, including notebooks, paper, pencils, markers, crayons and more. These were provided by the MIND Institute in partnership with Credit Unions for Kids and Children’s Miracle Network at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.
The importance of connecting and building community
The Family Resource Fair was a “Family Time at the MIND” event, hosted by the MIND Institute’s Child Life Program. These special events are held throughout the year and include a Fall Festival, movie nights and other activities.
“We are passionate about hosting these events because we understand the need for inclusion, family-centered care and meaningful childhood experiences for all kids. We dedicate ourselves to creating experiences for families to attend as they are, without having to adapt to our environment. Instead, we design events around their needs,” explained Veronica Tuss, a child life specialist.
Child life specialists are developmental professionals. They help minimize the anxiety of health care visits by preparing children and families and providing coping strategies to address each child’s needs.
We encourage families to join us in the future because these events are designed for you, to celebrate you and support you. We want as many people as possible to benefit from these programs.”
Tuss says they also recognize how important the larger community of support is for families and these events help to build that support.
“We aim to help families bond with each other, to create social connections with other children and families in their communities and to have a safe space to play and interact where they can be supported as their truest selves,” Tuss explained.
Roseborough agrees. “We encourage families to join us in the future because these events are designed for you, to celebrate you and support you. We want as many people as possible to benefit from these programs,” she said.
The UC Davis MIND Institute Resource Center is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. for in-person visits in English and Spanish. Other times are available by appointment. If you have questions or would like to make an appointment, call 916-703-0336 for help in English or 916-703-0439 for assistance in Spanish.
The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif. is a unique, interdisciplinary research, clinical, and education center committed to deepening scientific understanding of autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. It is a highly collaborative center, bringing together families, researchers, clinicians, community leaders and volunteers with the common goal of developing more personalized, equitable, and scientifically proven systems of support and intervention. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at mindinstitute.ucdavis.edu.