When our son, James, was little, we searched for inclusive play activities, accessible parks, and resources for families with special needs children. Because we couldn’t find anything in our own county – El Dorado – we ended up going to Sacramento so James could be involved in their accessible recreational activities.
It’s funny how life circles back around. When we saw the email about the gym closing down, my husband, Jim, and I looked at each other and said, “Should we?” We had always wanted something accessible for children with special needs, a place where all children can play together, but also somewhere families can go for classes, workshops, and resources. It didn’t take long for Jim and me to say, “Let’s go for it!” Is it a risk? You bet! But what is life if we don’t take a risk to better ourselves, our family, and especially our COMMUNITY.
We formed Exhilaration Station because the Placerville area and the Western Slope of El Dorado County NEEDS a trauma-informed family resource center. We want a place where families can feel safe, have fun, heal from trauma, and grow individually and as a family with a mindset of peace, equity, and positivity.
We are dedicated to strengthening ALL families with ALL abilities by enhancing protective factors and reducing neurodevelopmental trauma through inclusive and equitable educational play, classes, celebrations, and resources.
According to 2019 county records, El Dorado County has 54,381 families with 29% considered ALICE households - men and women of all ages and races who are working but unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, and transportation. In addition, 7.5% of households and 9.6% of children are living below the poverty level and with an average of 870 children considered homeless (EDCOE McKinney-Vento Program).
According to Kid’s Data and El Dorado County’s 2019 Community Health Assessment, El Dorado County has higher rates of child abuse and neglect and domestic violence, and children in foster care than the state average. In addition, there are more children with special needs and disabilities than the state average.
Amid this multitude of family crises, the ongoing pandemic and long-standing inequities, the well-being and resilience of students and their families are more important than ever.
El Dorado County does not have a family resource center. We need a place where families can feel safe, have fun and play with their children, learn how trauma impacts the developing brain, learn how to regulate themselves and help their children self-regulate, learn how to communicate nonviolently and have healthy relationships, heal from their trauma, and grow to reach their goals.