Jocelyn Johnson and her 20 year old daughter Nia dance to the beat of the music at La Quinta Resort and Spa. Nia has has participated in programs with the United Cerebral Palsy Of The Inland Empire for over 5 years.
“She just lights up everybody’s day,” Johnson said. “You see her, she’s smiling, having fun, energetic.”
The United Cerebral Palsy Of The Inland Empire hosted a Holiday Party to bring joy to their community members. Johnson said she is proud of her daughter’s progress in becoming more independent and social.
“When she was 17 months and this happened, the doctor told us she wouldn’t be able to do anything that she would be a vegetable,” Johnson said. “For her to be dancing and having fun, communicating and being out in the community means a lot to me and my family.”
Fabian Perez is 18 years old and has autism, which makes it harder for him to interact and socialize with others. His mother, Fabiola Perez said this is their first time at this Christmas party.
“These kind of events help children bond and interact with one another,” she said.
Perez said she was scared when she first found out that her son had autism. With time, she came to realize that her son’s disability was a blessing for her and her family.
“With time, you realize that these kids help you grow,” Fabiola Perez said. “As a mother, my son has taught me how to be patient and loving.”
About 100 kids who participate in programs with UCPIE made their very own wish list for Santa Claus. Some participants asked for dolls, cars, legos and some even asked for makeup.
Demitrious Sinor is the chairman of UCPIE’s board of trustees. He said these kind of events are important for the community because they are a networking opportunity.
“Parents bond with parents, kids have a chance to bond with each other, build relationships not only now, but for the future,” Sinor said. “Our family keeps growing, getting stronger, and we’re seeing more examples of living a life without limits.”
These parents hope to pay it forward and help spread awareness on resources available for children with special needs.
“I try to do my best to open their eyes and say there is help, there are programs that can help you,” Johnson said.
For more information on resources and events hosted by UCPIE, click here.