Special Day special for kids, families

Tony Casey • Apr 26, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Though just a few children showed up for Saturday’s Special Day for Special Kids function at the Memorial Park Community Center, fun was had by all involved.

Renee Ensor, a program coordinator with the city of Johnson City, said the second installment of the event offered families with special situations a chance to get out and have some fun together and with other similar families. What’s best about the city’s offering is that it was free of charge to people who signed up for the action-packed day. Pizza was provided by Mellow Mushroom, arts and crafts by Mary Lee of Princeton Arts Center, who heads the Van-Go arts program, and activities were spread through the MPCC.

Lee calls her programs Active Art, which is just what Saturday’s kids were looking for.

“When Renee asked, I was flattered,” Lee said “I wanted to provide art for the kids.”

Christina Maiden’s 5-year-old son, Gavin, suffers from the rare disease Williams Syndrome, found in 1 in 10,000 people worldwide. It is caused by partial deletion of his seventh chromosome. Gavin was having a great time socializing Saturday, but, as his mother shared, that’s something that tends to be a common trait with people in his condition.

“He’s very understanding about emotion,” Christina Maiden said.

She said those with Williams Syndrome are extremely happy, social people who show a great deal of sensitivity to others. When 7-year-old Mikayla Boldt turned up crying for something minor in the gym later in the day, Gavin was immediately by her side to give her a hug and share in her discomfort, which was soon over with when the pizza arrived.

Gavin’s grandmother, Brenda Maiden, often takes care of her grandson, as his mother is a teacher and volleyball coach. She says she has to be extra careful to watch what she says to him about ailment-related issues because of his sensitivity.

When Gavin’s mom was recently recovering from a surgery, Brenda Maiden told Gavin his mother was having a tough go of it, and she said it rocked his world.

Starla Boldt, Mikayla’s mother, said they’d recently come to an Easter event and heard they’d be having a Special Day event and jumped on board. Seeing her daughter play at all the fun tables laid out made Starla a happy camper.

Some of the crafts tables included the use of plastic bags filled with paint that required fingerpainting to reveal an object under the paint, a tablecloth with sidewalk chalk that required a spray of water to show more vibrant colors and a sticky wall where feathers, cotton balls, glitter and more could be stuck.

“Everything’s hands-on,” Starla said of her daughter’s favorite things. “If she can touch it, she likes it.”

One thing both kids were able to touch Saturday was the rim. Ensor lowered the basketball rims down a few feet for the kids, who felt the sensation of dunking a basketball, with some help from their parents.

Just before heading out the door, Gavin turned to Ensor and announced, “I’m going to come back and see you!” Mikayla suddenly realized how much fun she had, and said, “yeah, me too!”

Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.

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