When my son DJ was five, someone told me that the local department of parks and recreation had before and after school care for $75 a month. At that time, I was a single mother paying $400 a month to daycare for the same thing. The rules for parks and recreation care were that the child had to be school age, potty trained and have a bus that took them to school. It did not say "only ‘normal’ kids need apply." I set my sights on this program and decided to make it my mission to get my son included. I called the director, told her about my son, who has Down syndrome, and I think she knew I was very determined from the sound of my voice. She said she would give it a two week trial to see if her staff of high school and college students could handle this slightly more needy child. My older son, Josh, would be enrolled, too, so he could also help with DJ. My son became the most popular child there. The director even hired a male staff member, Mondo, because DJ needed a bit of extra supervision in the restroom. Well okay, he kept stripping off his clothes and the female staff weren’t supposed to be in the men’s restroom. Almost all of the staff offered their sitter services for nights and weekends. The group of young students fell so madly in love with my adorable son that, two years later when I transferred with my company to Washington State, there were lots of tears and nearly a custody battle. They threw a huge going away party for DJ on his last day. When I arrived to pick up my children the entire staff were wearing shirts that had a picture of the them with DJ on them. We said our good-byes and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. I sent them a thank you letter via the parks and recreation office in Woodland, CA once we had settled in WA. There was nothing even slightly comparable to that program in our new town. In return they sent us a package. The city of Woodland gave each of the student staff awards acknowledging them as outstanding members of the community. And Mondo….he missed his little buddy so much that in college he decided to work as a live-in caregiver for a young man with Down syndrome.