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Their Voice: Kids Who Count celebrates 30 years of early intervention

Daily Herald Article:

Last week I received an invitation in the mail to attend the Kids Who Count 30th anniversary celebration Tuesday evening. I have written several times about Kids Who Count, an early intervention program funded by the Health Department and serving the Nebo School District area. Early intervention provides a multitude of services for newborn children through age 3 and their families.

Last week I received an invitation in the mail to attend the Kids Who Count 30th anniversary celebration Tuesday evening. I have written several times about Kids Who Count, an early intervention program funded by the Health Department and serving the Nebo School District area. Early intervention provides a multitude of services for newborn children through age 3 and their families.

As I was driving to the open house I couldn’t help but think that 30 years ago when the Americans with Disabilities Act was still a concept, Susie Parrett was in Salem, Utah, just looking for a way to help her two children who had both experienced a head injury.

“I had no intention to start anything,” reflects Parrett. “I just wanted to get some help for my kids.”

Instead, with prompting from the Health Department, Susie started Kids Who Count in the basement of the San Andres Catholic Church in Payson. The six children who started 30 years ago have now turned into 270 who are currently being served.

“We know there are a lot more who need our services,” says Kelsey Lewis, executive director of Kids Who Count. “We really wish we could reach out to all of them.”

The celebration consisted of bouncy houses, games, pizza, snow cones, popcorn and a lot of great conversation and recollection of wonderful memories. Many of the children in attendance are still in the program, and many more have completed early intervention and progressed to the Special Ed Program through Nebo School District. Some of the children are now adults.

One particular mother who made sure she attended was Cheltsy Moore. Cheltsy’s son, Brody, entered the Kids Who Count program in 2011. Brody was born 10 weeks early and was at Primary Children’s Hospital until October that year. When it was time for Brody to go home, a coordinator from Primary Children’s Hospital set up a conference call with his parents and Mary Walker, a nurse at Kids Who Count.

“When it was finally time to take Brody home, we were both excited and nervous. We had been warned so much about germs and taking him out that we weren’t really sure what to do. He was still connected to a lot of tubes,” Moore recalls.

Luckily for the Moores, nurses from Kids Who Count started coming in to check on him right away. “Brody wasn’t even able to turn his head when he came home,” Moore recalls. “Mary and other therapists were able to teach him to turn his head, sit up and eventually walk in his walker.”

Services through Kids Who Count included physical therapy, swimming (which Brody really loved), speech therapy and weight checks, while they were working with his physicians to get him to eat. Since the Moores’ insurance could only pay for 20 services a year, Kids Who Count was able to bridge the gap and give him the services that he needed.

Additionally, the therapists were able to work with the family and teach them the things they need to know to continue the sessions daily.  It was refreshing for Brody’s parents to work with individuals who were able to fully understand his diagnosis and knew exactly what they were talking about.

Brody finished the Kids Who Count program when he turned three and advanced to the Special Education program. However, for the Moores and other families involved in early intervention, the relationships did not stop.

“The staff at Kids Who Count become like family,” says Moore. “Since they come to your house instead of making you go to them, they get to know everyone. My other children also looked forward to the visits from the therapists and staff.”

Cheltsy might not have realized how close the people from Kids Who Count really were to her family until a year ago, when Brody unexpectedly passed away from complications of his condition.

“They all come to the funeral to show their support and I understood that my loss was also their loss,” Moore says. “Sometimes we will go to the cemetery and find little notes from them on his headstone.”

I imagine that attending the anniversary celebration this week was not easy for Cheltsy, but she went anyway to show her support and appreciation for the program and staff whom she still sees as part of her family.

So it is on behalf of Cheltsy, Brody, and the hundreds of other families who are connected to this program that I congratulate the Kids Who Count program on all of their successes. From Susie Parrett to the current organization, I hope that you are always able to continue the support that you provide for our small community.

Holly BushnellTheir Voice: Kids Who Count celebrates 30 years of early intervention

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