For nearly 60 years the Sunshine School and Development Center has worked to help folks of all ages achieve more in their lives in spite of their disabilities. This Northwest Arkansas ray of sunshine has helped create firsts for so many over the years.
Sunshine School Parent Kluane Billings has watched her young daughter flourish thanks to the program in Rogers.
“She [Piper] has come such a long way,” Kluane Billings said.
Piper is a sweet and active four-year-old. She first came to the Sunshine School and Development Center about three years ago.
“She [Piper] didn’t walk, she didn’t talk, she didn’t eat, she didn’t do anything really,” Kluane Billings remembered. “I mean she could play and roll around on her belly but that was about it.”
Piper has Down Syndrome, but thanks to the help of the school, she has blossomed into a fun-loving child who runs, sings, dances and hands out hugs like candy. Piper is just one example of all the miracles that takes place at the Sunshine School.
“We have children whose families were told that they would never walk and they take their first steps here,” Sunshine School and Development Center Director of Children’s Services Nicole Bedard shared. “We have families who thought their child would never talk and their first words are spoken here.”
As Piper grows up, the Sunshine School will be there for her still.
“We have a couple of clients that actually went to school here and now we serve them as adults,” Sunshine School Director of Community Support Services Amy Palmer explained.
Amy Palmer says it’s interesting to hear from parents about the experiences of their grown children throughout their development.
“They didn’t walk, they didn’t talk, they were never gonna’ be able to be alone and they’re in their own apartments [now],” Palmer added.
Kluane Billings explained how important it is when children with developmental delays reach a milestone that they are celebrated.
“They’re so proud of themselves and a lot of people take that for granted and you can’t take that for granted here,” Kluane Billings said.
Kluane Billings is such a believer in the school’s mission that she joined the board of directors. The Sunshine School and Development Center has a gala event coming up on April 8th. To learn more about that event, as well as the school itself, click here.