The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for us all, but especially Variety Kids and their families. Children with disabilities are vulnerable to the coronavirus, and many Variety Families are reeling from the long-term economical and emotional effects of a global health crisis. But Variety has been right there with them – a constant in a world that has changed so much.
Thanks to our supporters, Variety has been able to provide uninterrupted access to crucial services. Each of our programs has pivoted to continue serving Variety Kids and their families in new ways. In our “We’re Still Here Every Day” blog series, we’ll share how all of our vital programs have shifted to ensure Variety Kids can keep thriving every day.
Many children with disabilities rely on therapy to accomplish abilities that may seem like ordinary tasks to others. From walking to speaking to eating, and more, physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions help Variety Kids learn new skills that are invaluable in their everyday lives.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Variety Kids throughout the area were cut off from their regular therapy sessions. Many of these children receive therapy through their school – when school buildings closed, so did this in-school service. Still others were missing sessions when their therapy clinics had to shut down in-person therapy due to the health crisis.
While all of these shutdowns and closings were successful in keeping Variety Kids healthy and safe from the coronavirus, they resulted in other health setbacks for many. Without access to regular therapy sessions, multiple children started to regress – some who were learning to speak were no longer learning new words and others who were learning to walk lost strength, balance and coordination.
Our team here at Variety St. Louis quickly realized that something needed to be done so that Variety Kids would not lose all of the progress they had worked so hard to gain. Early in the pandemic, we expanded the TherHappy Kids program to include assistance with teletherapy sessions. We also partnered with e-Therapy to ensure that those who did not already have access to a virtual therapist could be matched with a professional.
This expansion has continued to this day, and we are still offering assistance with both virtual and in-person physical, occupational and speech therapy. By offering these flexible options, we are giving Variety parents the opportunity to select what works best for them and their child. Some Variety Kids thrive better when interacting directly with a therapist, while others have shown great progress online.
In addition, Variety is considering special circumstances, such as a loss of income due to the pandemic, when approving families for financial assistance. While we always review each case individually, we are taking extra care to ensure that those who have recent life changes can get the help they need for their child.
A huge thank you goes out to all of our supporters who make it possible for us to pivot quickly so that we can continue to help Variety Kids achieve their “Every Day PossAbilities” through uninterrupted access to vital therapy. The need for this therapy never stops and requests are always coming in – if you can, please give today at HelpAVarietyKid.org so we can help everyone who needs it now.