Bridging the gap

"Two people getting together who have similar concerns, that's a support group," said Oill. . "To me, it doesn't matter if it's two people or 20."

CHS holds educational trainings once a month. Oill leads some of the training classes, like a class on preparing for school vacations. In this class, Oill teaches parents how to make the vacation more enjoyable, both for the parents and the child.

"I was meeting with a young grandmother who had custody of her grandchildren," Oill said, "and she was concerned about a school vacation coming up. I worked with her and showed her what she needed to do. She thought it was very helpful and that it went much smoother than other vacations."

In the class, Oill advises parents on every aspect of the vacation, from brainstorming activities to making a schedule, to dealing with negative behavior. But Oill said the most important part of the vacation is to "have fun. It sounds so clichE but it's so true. It's really good for your kid because then they feel like you want to be with them. And when they feel like you want to be with them, they feel better no matter what their situation or disability is."

If the topic of the class is more complex, Oill may bring in a speaker. In the past, CHS has held classes on preparing an estate when you're a parent of a special needs child. For a topic like this, Oill said CHS can bring in lawyers and insurance companies.

The classes and support groups help bridge the gap of the community, said Oill. The purpose of CHS is to bring together parents with common concerns, helping them to see they are not alone in their worries.

"I'm really proud of the work that I do because it's very unique," said Oill. "I've been in human services for almost 20 years now and this is the first time I've seen something like this."

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