Night Lights mission is to create safe and accepting environments by providing respite care for children who have special needs and their neuro-typical siblings.
Night Lights was started in March of 2011 at Waterstone Community Church by Kristin Steadman as a way to provide a few hours of temporary relief to primary care providers. On Night Lights first respite event, there were 10 kids and 26 volunteers who participated. Night Lights became an official non-profit organization (501c3) in November of 2012 and now cares for 25-30 children each month at each site.
Most recently, it was determined that 4 in 10 adults are now in a care giving role, not a job and not the typical parenting role but providing specialized care. The Colorado Respite Coalition recognizes that “caregivers face a higher rate of depression, anxiety, and chronic medical conditions than non caregivers” with 55% of them feeling overwhelmed by the needs of the person they care for. Night Lights provides quality care for children who have special needs and their neuro-typical siblings under the age of 13 years old, helping parents or caregivers have time to take a bath, go out to dinner, go grocery shopping, run errands, or even just read a book.
How did Night Lights get its start?
Kristin Steadman, Founder and Executive Director of Night Lights began Night Lights through her own journey of raising two children; one of which has significant special needs. Her daughter, Kaitlyn and son, Zach were the inspiration and motivation for Night Lights.
Zach’s first few months were very “normal”. At 6 months old, Zach began falling behind with milestones and his challenges mirror Cerebral Palsy. The list of tasks that he needs assistance with is lengthy, and he relies on his parents for everything with Kristin being his caregiver.
This took a toll on the Steadman family. While researching and searching for answers, they learned that respite care for parents of children with special needs is in short supply, despite the high demand. The Steadman’s are still learning and advocate for Zach daily-there is therapy, school, doctors appointments, a special diet, a wheelchair to maneuver and so much more. They have had to learn to balance Zach’s needs, their daughter’s needs, and still take care of themselves and find time for one another. They are still learning because Zach’s needs change, Kaitlyn’s needs change, and life changes. That is why Kristin knew that Night Lights was needed to provide parents of children with special needs the space for self-care, while their children enjoy an exciting evening with background checked, trained volunteers.
- Night Lights is held one Friday each month from 6:30pm – 10:00pm
- The kids enjoy activities such as gross motor, sensory play, free play, arts and crafts, pet therapy, entertainment, movies and snacks
- Each family does an interview with the Leadership Team prior to attending Night Lights to make sure their needs can be met
- Night Lights is free to the families that participate in the program