The Stephens Family YMCA has created programming designed to support children at all developmental levels and their families.
All children have needs that can be met in a non-competitive recreational environment, developing skills, learning, and making friends along the way.
Larkin’s Place is ingrained throughout the entire YMCA through accessible spaces, an attitude of acceptance, and programming that brings our community together; a ray of hope that inspires us all to be better.
Larkin’s Place programming is for all who wish to achieve therapeutic goals, developmental goals, improve skills, and create social networks.
Larkin’s Place programs seek to bring together typically developing children and those with disabilities to play and learn, create memories, skills, and bonds of friendship that will cross all barriers and last a lifetime.
Larkin’s Place programs are for everyone and we encourage all to join in the fun as role models, peers, and friends.
Parents of children with special needs live on a roller coaster of emotions, challenges, and triumphs as they endeavor to raise their child. After overcoming initial difficulties of understanding their child's limitations, they are faced with years of trying to care for a child who may not play like other kids, who may look different from other children, and who will face any number of challenges that other children and their parents may never understand.
One mother's passion to do something about this rollercoaster ignited a movement to build a special community resource for children and adults with disabilities.
Larkin Murphy was born October 4, 2005 to Amy and Andy Armstrong. Shortly after Larkin was born she was diagnosed with Down syndrome. At age 2 Larkin was diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome- a seizure condition for which there is no cure. As the Armstrongs began to learn of the challenges ahead, Amy realized there was a large gap in recreational services for those with disabilities. There was no "place" in the community where families affected by disability could take their loved ones to exercise, play, and have fun with typically developing peers; a place where they would be welcomed, respected, and valued.
So Amy set out to create a recreational center built with Universal Design features to ensure everyone could participate. Larkin's Place would be a multigenerational, all-inclusive play and community center open to everyone regardless of age, physical ability, or income level. It would be a place for everyone to come together and learn from one another through recreation.
Amy assembled an advisory board, hired a consultant, began talking with leaders in the community, and in March 2008 was ready to begin fundraising. She asked Rick & Jeanene Stephens and Greg & Margo Lykins to help. Margo & Jeanene agreed that a warm water therapy pool was a critical ingredient and with it the project grew. Through a series of miracles we can only attribute to God, Larkin's Place and the YMCA partnered to not only build a new Y, but in such a way that all children and families could comfortably participate, including families affected by disability.
Larkin has a place at the Stephens Family YMCA. So do those with Autism, Multiple Sclerosis, the elderly, wounded warriors, those recovering from surgery or cancer, amputees, and many others. And, as families affected by disability enjoy the Y alongside those without disabilities, greater knowledge and understanding are important byproducts that make our community stronger. We hope Larkin's Place at the Y will be a shining example of what is possible to help those most in need.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11