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Friday’s Kids helps families of kids with special needs

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OREM, Utah – For parents of children with special needs, every minute is spent worrying about their kids, but a Utah County organization is doing what they can to give those parents a break from childhood chaos.

Friday's Kids works like a day care, at night. Every Friday and Saturday, staff and volunteers watch the kids, so parents can focus on themselves.

"It's just nice to get away from him, at times," says Grant Wilson. His 10-year-old son Gavin has been coming to Friday's Kids for over five years. "Even though we love him to death and there are family members that would be willing to take him and watch him, it's nice just to have another place, another avenue to have him watched."

The Wilsons are one of 47 families that use the program. Friday's Kids was started in 2001 by families with special needs children. They serve a diverse population, from children with Down's syndrome to more advanced conditions like Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, a developmental disorder.

But coordinators say the staff is fully trained on all the different needs, to give the kids a fun, safe environment that benefits them as much as their parents.

"They get to interact with other children that have special needs," says Program Director Christina Passey. "They feel that other kids are just like them and it's fine to be different and it's wonderful to be different."

The programs success relies on its volunteers. Every week dozens from the community give their time to play with the kids, a task many say helps bring out the kid in them.

"We like to go in the ball pit and either throw the balls out of the ball pit at each other," says volunteer Samantha Murdock. "Or into a little basketball hoop that they have, lots of the kids like that."

The program has three locations throughout Utah County. More information on the program can be found on their website, www.fridayskids.org.