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Family-centered activities at heart of EFMP

A volunteer helps Kimiko Bullis, exceptional family member, (left) learn to skate with the assistance of a walker and her seeing eye dog, Drifter, July 20. The Exceptional Family Member Program sponsored C3 Skating Therapy camp for 18 children in the EFMP program. The camp was held at Honnen Ice Arena in downtown Colorado Springs, Colo. July 16-20. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lea Johnson)

A volunteer helps Kimiko Bullis, exceptional family member, (left) learn to skate with the assistance of a walker and her seeing eye dog, Drifter, at last year’s skating therapy camp. The Exceptional Family Member Program offers free visits to the C3 Skating Therapy camp for children in the EFMP program. (U.S. Air Force photo/file photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Peterson Exceptional Family Member Program is hard at work to provide EFMP families with a variety of activities.

Jackie Wickham, 21st Space Wing EFMP coordinator, said she plans at least quarterly events for EFMP children and families on-base.

"When I first came, I sent out a survey asking families what they need from me. One of the huge responses I got was they wanted to do more family-oriented activities," she said.

These activities have ranged from a family retreat to therapeutic horseback riding and more.

Currently, the EFMP family support is offering a free seven-week American Sign Language workshop for EFMP families.

"We have less than 10 (children) who are hearing impaired, but a lot of times families of kids on the autism spectrum use sign language because some of those kids are not verbal," Wickham said.

The class is held once a week, on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday evening, and taught by Cindy Powell, Carmel Community Living Corporation sign language instructor. "She's been in the special needs world for 20-plus years," Wickham said.

For four weeks in February and March, Wickham said they are hosting an adaptive cartooning art class for EFMP children 5 years and older.

"This is good for kids. It teaches them how to work with each other, how to concentrate and muscle coordination," she said.

The class is limited to 12 people. Parents can register their kids at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center.

This past summer, Wickham received funding for a summer camp and set up a week of classes at C3 Therapeutic Skating in downtown Colorado Springs. "I had a lot of good feedback and so we requested more money," Wickham said.

EFMP parents can pick up a punch card for 10 free classes from C3 Therapeutic Skating to use on their own time.

According to Wickham, Peterson averages between 250-275 EFMP families at any given time, and many are active in her programs.

"When EFMP families move here, this is one of the first places they stop by. That tells me that the word is out we're here to help them, whether it's for school issues or housing," she said.

Despite the growing number of families involved in the program, there are still those who don't have access to the services available to them.

According to Beverly Price, 21st Space Wing Community Support Coordinator, for families to have access to the services they need, they must be enrolled in EFMP. The process can be started by contacting Wickham.

Price said too many families wait until there's an emergency, but enrollment should happen right away.

EFMP activities are posted on the Peterson AFB Airman and Family Readiness Center Facebook page. Information is also passed down through the Integrated Delivery System.

For more information about EFMP, contact Wickham at 556-6141.

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