Addressing children's needs

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By The Staff

Los Alamos is a wonderful place for most families. We enjoy great schools and a wide variety of youth/family programs. I am proud our town is a progressive, vibrant community that is generally responsive to the needs of its residents. But there is a gap not yet addressed. Our community has a small, yet significant, part of the population with developmental disabilities. Outside of school, the families who care for those individuals are often on their own. In Los Alamos, there is a lack of comprehensive programs in place to provide support across the spectrum of abilities. Certainly I hope that anyone who can be included in typical age appropriate activities, is. But some needs, some situations call for more.

  There are many choices in after school and summer care for elementary school children. However, each program has a cap on ages served, base on chronological age without consideration for developmental age. Did you know that there is no after-school program in Los Alamos that provides supervised activities/personal care for teens who are not independent? In my opinion, programs and services that promote quality of life for families should be in place for all the families in Los Alamos, regardless of levels of ability. I believe we can tap into the amazingly creative base of community-minded citizens right here in Los Alamos to address the needs of all our children after school.

  I realize providing programs for children/teens with disabilities is a big task. The practical details are difficult, the responsibilities great – but you know, the most important challenges are seldom easy. It is feasible. It has been done in other communities across the country both large and small, and it can be done here. Are we up to the task? I hope so. Los Alamos is a great community and as such we should acknowledge the needs of our citizens with disabilities and do what we can to improve the quality of life for them and their families. If not now, when?

Regina Mertz

Los Alamos