Support Systems: Cenaida’s Story

Support groups can come in the form of a few friends, family members, or a group of people who have common interests. Support groups for parents who have a child with special healthcare needs can help families cope with the challenges of caring for a child. These groups can also help families plan and respond to a child’s health needs during an emergency.

 Photo of many people with their hands in the middle of a circle together.

When extreme heat and high winds caused a power outage in their southwest desert hometown, Inga and her granddaughter, Cenaida, who has a seizure disorder (sometimes referred to as epilepsy), were worried. The power outage lasted for a week. But help was on the way. Inga and Cenaida witnessed support pouring into their town from far and wide. The forestry service, families of Cenaida’s classmates, and other families with children who had special healthcare needs all joined together. “If not for the help from other caring people, I don’t know how we could have made it,” says Inga. Members of the forestry service passed out cases of water, while families gave money for food, water, and motel rooms in a nearby city. “We helped each other, whether food or a little money to purchase whatever we needed at that moment.” The motel manager also discounted the price of the rooms for the families, which included children with health needs who required oxygen tanks, power chairs, and tube feeding.

Community support can play a big role in bringing resources to families who might not have planned for an emergency. If a support group is not available in your area, try creating one to help families plan for an emergency. This and other resources can make it easier for you to cope with a disaster.

For more information about emergency planning resources for your community.