Raising Special Kids is a Parent Training and Information center (PTI) that provides families bilingual workshops for both parents and professionals free of charge. Their mission is to support families as they navigate systems (medical, social, school) so they feel empowered to advocate for their child with a disability or special healthcare need. All three members of the Demland family have been volunteers in the family faculty program at Raising Special Kids for more than three years.
The family faculty program of Phoenix, Arizona consists of families raising children with disabilities and or special healthcare needs going through training and hosting physician residents in their home. The family faculty families go through initial volunteer training and then complete training related specifically to hosting a physician resident in their home.
Debbie, David and Clark Demland have been dedicated volunteers in the family faculty program. They host on average two residents a month in their home for two to three hours each visit. Clark has Duchene Muscular Dystrophy and is in 7th grade. The Demland family welcomes residents in their home and they share the parent perspective, the family history, daily routine, the impact of the diagnosis on their family and the adaptations they have made to cope and to be the special family they are.
Debbie also volunteers as a parent-to-parent connection with Raising Special Kids. When a family has discovered their child has Duchene Muscular Dystrophy they connect them Debbie to talk over the phone about their new reality and adjusting to it. She assists the family in resources and services that are available to them and how to access them. This connection assists the newly diagnosis family to feel less alone, to accept what is happening to their family and to make progress. Clark has also been a great volunteer when interacting with the residents. He speaks openly with them and enjoys spending time with them on his game systems. He is a VIP volunteer at Raising Special Kids.
The Demland’s volunteer efforts with family faculty allow physician residents to see first hand the effect of diagnosis on a family, to interact with the child with special needs and to get the parent perspective outside of the clinic setting. This program builds parent/professional collaboration and gives a new frame of reference for the resident.
The Demland family’s volunteer efforts have also assisted in preparing future doctors to treat and collaborate with families raising children with special needs. Debbie’s parent-to-parent efforts have enabled parents to access services, to make progress and eventually take action and becoming active and involved in the community.