Sunshine Kids provides acceptance, activities for everyone

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Published 2008-02-12T00:00:00Z”/>


Mike Lata

Students looking for an opportunity to gain practical experience and work with children ages 5 to 18 can do so by volunteering in the Sunshine Kids club.

Jodi Drysdale, the volunteer program coordinator, said Sunshine Kids is an organization that works with both children who have disabilities and ones that do not and has three distinct programs offered during the week.

A wheelchair basketball program is offered on Wednesdays, an after-school program is on Thursdays and a team program meets a few Saturdays each month, Drysdale said.

The organization is looking for volunteers because programs start during the week of Feb. 18, she said.

Sophomore and co-founder Briana Beaver said Sunshine Kids also hosts several special events during the year, including a family bike day scheduled for early summer.

Beaver’s mother, Faelin Klein, did not intend to start an organization or club at first, but simply wanted to get children together so they could have fun and be kids, she said.

She had experience as a recreational therapist and worked with children previously, which helped her expand on the idea, Klein said.

The club grew into a nonprofit organization six years ago and has been in existence for 13 years, Beaver said.

Klein wanted to bring disabled children together so they could feel more included in society and so they would have an outlet to feel like “normal kids” rather than be treated differently, she said.

She wanted to find an environment for her daughter to feel comfortable and happy in, she said.

“She asked me if I could find a place where she could feel accepted and valued,” Klein said.

If society moves forward and becomes as accepting or open-minded as it should be there won’t be a need for Sunshine Kids, because all children will be embraced for who they are, Klein said.

“What makes us also unique is we are inclusive to all kids, which in my opinion is the right thing to do,” Klein said. “Not just kids with disabilities, but all kids are welcome to be a part of Sunshine Kids.”

The goal is not to fix the children – they are not broken, but to appreciate and value them, she said.

“Sunshine Kids taught me how to love kids of all backgrounds and abilities and how gifted all kids are.” Drysdale said. “Inclusion is bringing kids of all backgrounds and abilities together to be kids with each other.”

Klein said the majority of volunteers are Chico State students, and that they are critical to the organization being able to provide the programs it does.

Internships or volunteering credits are available for certain majors, Beaver said. Students can contact the internship center for more information.

Training will be provided to teach volunteers more about the programs they will be a part of, Beaver said.

“The kids enjoy being with each other and meeting college students that want to invest in their lives,” Drysdale said.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the Sunshine Kids’ office at 891-3618.

Mike Lata can be reached at<a href= “mailto:[email protected]”>[email protected]</a>

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