Nine Children Graduate from KidStreet
One by one, graduates paraded across the KidStreet lawn while employees shared anecdotes about each of them: "loving," "takes care of friends," "adoring," "flirtatious." Adorned in caps and gowns, they received diplomas and plaques in front of a backdrop themed to Where the Wild Things Are.
On Friday, July 29, nine children in total graduated from KidStreet at Children's Hospital Colorado, marking their achievement of developmental goals and their transition to public school while bringing a sense of normalcy to families whose children have faced incredible challenges.
After the ceremony, the graduates, their parents and siblings enjoyed a celebration that included face painting, a "bouncy castle," a slideshow presentation and an area for parents to socialize with each other.
Irvin Lopez-Perez, 3, graduated on Friday and will attend pre-school in the fall after his fourth birthday. Irvin had attended public school in the past, just after a liver transplant. Back then, he felt uncomfortable at school and became sick. His physician at Children's referred Irvin to KidStreet where, according to his mother Evelia Perez, he has become like a different child: happy and sociable.
"All of our kids are special," said Allison Briseno-Poley, an occupational therapist at KidStreet. "What they've had to go through in their lives makes them even more special. We see how they grow on a daily basis. We get to see their little personalities evolve, despite challenges."
KidStreet is a Children's Hospital Colorado Network of Care program designed for children like Irvin. It welcomes children ages six weeks to four years old that require daily nursing care and at least two rehab therapies. Patients graduate when they no longer need nursing or therapy or when they are eligible for full-time public school care.
The program offers a cost-effective alternative to hospitalization or home care and employees aim to educate and empower families to care for their children as independently as possible. Naturally, families form close ties to the employees as they grow with their children by learning to care for them.
"We're in a unique position to really understand the social situation for each of our patients," said Karen Terry, clinical manager of KidStreet. "We know so much about the daily lives of these families, even when they're not here."
Graduation, then, is as much for the children as for the families, and even the staff, who see the children on a daily basis.
"The kids are graduating, but parents are transitioning as well," Terry said. "And it's hard for staff to say goodbye."
"It's a huge shift for families," added Briseno-Poley, "Here, they have a sense of comfort. They know they can bring their children to a safe place where they can receive all needed therapies and medical care." She explained that she and her colleagues encourage parents to accept their children's departure from KidStreet as a positive step, that it means the child is growing.
"We feel, more than not, that kids accomplish more than we ever expected," Terry said.
As for Irvin, "We always wish the best for our kids," Perez said. "We hope he will be an independent and lovable person like the kid he already is."
Learn more about KidStreet.