Birmingham Parent Magazine | March-April 2024

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Celebrating Years!

HOW THE SIMPSON FAMILY BECAME PART OF THE SPECIAL NEEDS COMMUNITY

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF BIRMINGHAM

OUR SPECIAL NEEDS ISSUE

MARCH/APRIL
2024
THE PREMIER PARENTING MAGAZINE FOR CENTRAL ALABAMA
PARENT

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At Children’s of Alabama, kids are the center of our world and it is our mission to provide the very best care available to every child. It’s why we are here.

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BirminghamParent.com | 3

ed note

Welcome to our Special Needs and Baby Issue 2024!

This issue always tugs at my heart. My babies are grown now, but I remember all that went into the births of each and those first few years — and there’s better information than ever before now about giving birth and raising happy, healthy children. We are happy to be a part of it.

The very first issue of Birmingham Parent in March 2004 was dedicated to special needs. We continue that 20 years later with this issue, as well as our event, the Special Needs Expo 2024 on Saturday, March 16, 2024, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Exceptional Foundation in Homewood. Admission is FREE. One of my favorite pieces in this issue that I was privileged to write is “What Not to Say to the Parents of a Special Needs Child.” I got to talk with a lot of you about this, and you offered amazing insight. We issued a call for comments on social media and was overwhelmed with responses. I wish we had space to include them all. I know a lot of people mean well when they say some of these things we highlighted, but parents of children with special needs want you to know that sometimes it just hurts or doesn’t sit well with them. And for those of us who may have said one or more of these things, sometimes when you know better, you do better. I know I will!

We’ve highlighted two “parenting people” in special needs — one that’s not a surprise, the new president of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Dr. Dennis Gilliam, and Chief Meteorologist Jason Simpson at WVTM/NBC 13 whose youngest child has faced many issues in his 8 years of life. Be sure to check these out.

Birmingham Parent is celebrating its 20th year of publishing in 2024, but this issue is the anniversary of the very first issue! This magazine has been my “baby” that I’ve watched grow up. We hope you will enjoy the article by Paige Townley about how we came to be, see some of our covers through the years, and know how much we appreciate you being a reader and advertiser throughout the years. The future looks bright!

Happy Easter, and happy spring

Carol Muse Evans publisher/editor

carol@birminghmparent.com

ABOUT THE EDITOR:

Carol Muse Evans is the publisher/editor/owner of Birmingham Parent magazine, a publication she and her husband David began in 2004. The Birmingham, Alabama-based parenting publication attracts more than 60,000 readers monthly in a four-county area and receives 10,000 hits per month on its website. The magazine has a 20,000+ print circulation, plus several thousand in readership of the digital edition online. It is the only independently audited free publication in our area. Evans is an award-winning writer and editor who has also has written for several other publications as a freelance writer since the late 80s. She is a graduate of Auburn University in journalism and is a graduate of Scottsboro High School. She is married with two grown children and lives in Clanton. She/Birmingham Parent are members of the Alabama Press Association.

703 Logan Rd., Suite 150

Clanton, AL 35045

205-624-2405

205-624-2515 FAX

www.birminghamparent.com editorial publishers

David & Carol Evans editor

Carol Muse Evans staff writer

Paige Townley

contributors

Tanni Haas, Ph.D.

Family Features

Harper Kaulfold

Sarah Lyons

Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association

sales business development

Tom Gonzales

sr marketing consultant

Kayla Fricks

marketing consultantspecial events

Amy Phillips

print & web production

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T&P Deliveries

BIRMINGHAM PARENT IS A PUBLICATION OF EVANS PUBLISHING, LLC. Publishers: Carol Muse Evans, David K. Evans Sr. Birmingham Parent (EIN20-0694149) is published monthly by Evans Publishing LLC. www.birminghamparent.com or editor@ birminghamparent.com. Birmingham Parent is © 2024 by Evans Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Editorial submissions are welcome. For back issues, please send a self-addressed 10” x 13” envelope with $4 for postage and handling.

4 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024

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6 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 ON THE COVER: WVTM 13's Chief Meterologist Jason Simpson and his 8-year-old
13
Christy Pierce Photography, www.christypiercephotographyllc.com, 205-902-0385. contents 4 8 10 14 16 18 22 24 25 26 28 34 36 WWW.BIRMINGHAMPARENT.COM 18 10 24 26 EDITOR’S NOTE: WELCOME TO OUR SPECIAL NEEDS AND BABY ISSUE 2024 CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF BIRMINGHAM PARENT BIRMINGHAM ORGANIZATIONS ARE WORKING TO MEET SPECIAL NEEDS IN CHILDCARE AIDB’S NEW PRESDIENT DR. DENNIS GILLIAM HAS A LIFE-LONG HISTORY WITH AIDB HOW JASON’S SIMPSON’S FAMILY BECAME A PART OF THE SPECIAL NEEDS COMMUNITY
YOU SHOULDN’T SAY TO THE PARENTS OF A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
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studio. Photo by
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MARCH/APRIL

Celebrating Years!

Decades of Dedication: Celebrating 20 Years of Birmingham Parent

Offering a wealth of local parenting insights, resources and inspiration, Birmingham Parent is known as a trusted companion for families across Central Alabama. That was the mission when it was originally founded in 2004, and two decades later—as the publication officially celebrates its 20th anniversary—it’s a mission that the magazine steadfastly holds today.

“I hope that [readers feel we are] a trusted source of parenting information,” shares Carol Evans, founder, owner and editor-in-chief of Birmingham Parent. “I hope we are known as a company that operates honestly and with journalistic integrity and that we are THE SOURCE of parenting information in Central Alabama. We try.”

Evans originally began Birmingham Parent to fill a void she saw coming to the Magic City. In January 2004, Birmingham Family Times, a wellknown source of parenting information in the city, was getting ready to close its doors. “At that time, I was the local editor for Birmingham Family Times,” Evans says. “Dominion, which also then owned Auto Trader, operated about 20 parenting magazines across the country and decided to close several, including Birmingham.”

Not wanting to see the city’s parents completely lose such a valuable way to receive parenting resources and insights, Evans made the decision to start her own. “My husband had always told me that I could do the magazine myself, so when they left the market, we started Birmingham Parent,” explained Evans. “The February 2004 issue was the last for Birmingham Family Times, and the March 2004 issue was the first for Birmingham Parent. It wasn’t pretty, but we did it.”

From a journalism perspective, the shift wasn’t hard. After all, Evans did have a journalism degree, had freelanced for many years, and spent the last four as local editor of Birmingham Family Times. “The huge learning curve was in business,” Evans stresses. “My husband is a mathematician and worked in IT, so we were both novices in the business world.”

The challenge, however, didn’t stop her. She managed to keep two sales representatives from Birmingham Family Times, hired a graphic designer and continued to work to provide needed local information about parenting.

We had a lot of ups and downs as we navigated the business side of things,” Evans says. “There were so many things I wasn’t familiar with, but we did it.”

And they did it well. The magazine continued to grow steadily, and it was able to keep hosting Camp Expo, a free, day-long exhibition for families to learn all about summer camps and programs and talk to counselors face to face. Camp Expo was originally started by Child Times (the local predecessor to Birmingham Family Times), continued by Birmingham Family Times and has become a significant and anticipated event in Birmingham each year. Additionally, Evans and her team were able to start a new exhibition—one that has even surpassed Camp Expo in its success: Special Needs Expo. “The Special Needs Expo is close to my heart,” Evans shares. “It was the brainstorm idea of a former sales rep, Crystal Mize, and it was so needed. We had always done at least one issue a year dedicated to special needs, but this was different.”

Though the first year of hosting the Special Needs Expo was difficult, Evans stayed with it. “Now, I can say it is the most popular event we do,” Evans adds. “Of course, we want to make money and pay our bills, but it is a work of love for all of the families who need these resources. They come for free and can talk to multiple services and places with products, all under one roof.”

Like any business, however, Birmingham Parent has dealt with some ups and downs over the years, whether it be navigating problems financially, relationally with employees, or others otherwise. “Running a business is hard,” shares Evans. “You make a lot of friends and some enemies. Not every nice person makes a good employee. You have to recognize that

8 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024
The first issue of Birmingham Parent - March, 2004.

and know when it isn’t working, even if they do not. You must stay true to your standards. They will serve you well, and then you can sleep at night.

Some of those challenges came in the form of big decisions that had to be made, such as making the decision to close the offices during the 2011/2012 economic downturn and going remote or reducing the number of issues each year. “You can’t be afraid of change,” Evans says. “Being willing to reinvent yourself can save your business in difficult times.”

Then came another challenge that required adapting to more change: the Covid-19 pandemic. “We thankfully survived it,” Evans says. “We didn’t print one issue—it was online only. That is the only time we have not printed a scheduled magazine in 20 years. But it was the right decision, as our advertisers were facing the same issues we were.”

The magazine isn’t quite as big as it was pre-Covid, but what it may now lack in size, it more than makes up for in its relentless commitment to providing local information about parenting to parents and caregivers to help them have happy, healthy children. “I always wanted to remain true to journalistic integrity—even in a parenting magazine,” Evans says. “I think that is one of the reasons we lasted so long. Unless you bought an advertorial, the editorial was not for sale. That meant our readers trusted us all the more. I believe our coverage is some of the best of any magazine in town.”

QUOTES

“I’m so grateful for Birmingham Parent as our community celebrates the 20th anniversary of this amazing magazine.  Over my career, I have been in a leadership role at three nonprofits: Presbyterian Home for Children, United Ability and the Alabama Family Trust. Birmingham Parent has showcased each one many times over the years and has truly helped make a meaningful impact in the lives served by these nonprofits.  Thank you, BP!”

--Doug Marshall, President and CEO, Presbyterian Home for Children

“Congratulations on two decades of nurturing, informing and connecting the Birmingham community! Birmingham Parent has been the print and digital heartbeat of families with an unwavering commitment to the production of extraordinary events, articles, guides and more. SummitMedia is a proud partner!”

C. Ragland, VP, Events & Promotions, SummitMedia LLC

“I’m so grateful for Birmingham Parent as our community celebrates the 20th anniversary of this amazing magazine."

“I enjoy working with content that can help improve the lives of parents, grandparents, caregivers and their children, while also helping to provide a valuable resource for the local community.”

Tom Gonzales, owner, of Digital Doo-wop

"I thoroughly enjoy working with a wide range of businesses and organizations for their marketing needs, and Birmingham Parent has a solid reputation of delivering their message to our readers consistently and effectively through our print and digital offerings."

--Kayla Kitchens Gomez, Senior Marketing Consultant for Birmingham Parent

“I have always been impressed with the emphasis on editorial integrity. The magazine staff tries hard to inform parents in the best way possible, without sensationalism or false information. It has not been afraid to tackle the tough issues facing families. There is always a huge responsibility to be accurate, relevant, informative and helpful to parents and grandparents. Birmingham Parent has been and is a reliable source for families, and I’m glad to have been a part of it.”

--Lori Pruitt, longtime copy editor of Birmingham Parent Paige Townley is a staff writer and freelance writer.

BirminghamParent.com | 9 CELEBRATING 20 YEARS!
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Caring

for All:

Birmingham Organizations are Working to Meet Special Needs in Childcare

The dynamics of family life are rapidly evolving, and for many families, that means the necessity for both parents to work full-time. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, nearly half of American households (46%) today have two parents working full-time.

Balancing childcare needs against the demands of the workplace leaves many families with multifaceted challenges that underscore the need for reliable childcare. But what happens when that childcare falls through? If grandma has an appointment or the nanny is sick? For employees of Children’s of Alabama, there’s always a backup. All Children’s of Alabama employees get 35 days each year to use at Near and Dear, a backup or drop-in childcare center. “Whatever need arises, whether it’s because the grandmother who normally keeps their kids isn’t feeling well or there’s a weather event that caused their regular childcare to close, they can call in and make a reservation,” explains Paige Larkin, director of Near and Dear. “They can also call up to three months in advance to make a reservation or last minute.”

Not all companies or organizations offer childcare when needed, and that is oftentimes a serious burden on families. One local childcare center is doing what it can to help parents when their children can’t go to school do to a mild sickness, Huggs and Kisses Sick Child Care. Located in downtown Birmingham, Huggs and Kisses offers alternative daycare for children who are suffering from mild illnesses, such as a cold, viral illness, or ear infection. Children at the center—which was founded by Dr. Jacqueline Stewart, a local pediatrician, more than 20 years ago—are cared for by professionally trained caregivers.

Whatever the childcare need, Childcare Resources is a local nonprofit organization seeking to help families find it. The organization provides free resources and referrals to any family in its four-county area, whether that’s online, via phone, or in person. “We conduct free, customized searches for childcare, and we make sure parents can choose from quality childcare

options,” explains Joan Wright, executive director of Childcare Resources. “We also train and provide technical assistance, which includes support of services to improve quality childcare in the community.”

One type of childcare that unfortunately has limited offerings in the Birmingham area is for children with special needs, yet there are a few. Glenwood is a nonprofit agency dedicated to serving those with autism and other behavioral health needs, and it offers a Children’s Center with an all-day ABA Therapy Program. Autistic children ages two to six can attend the program from 8:15 am until 4:00 pm each day. In addition to functioning as a form of child care for working families, it also provides a place for children to receive therapy as well. “Children attending get the best services possible to address their needs in order to equip them to be ready to go into a kindergarten setting when they become of age,” explains Paul Agustini, vice president of education and ABA Services at Glenwood. “Though because we are therapy, we do have stricter attendance policies because it’s essentially therapy appointments the child will receive on a daily basis.”

Mitchell’s Place is another center specializing in serving children with autism and other developmental disabilities, and it does so through its Early Learning Preschool. The ABA-based inclusive program includes children on the autism spectrum, as well as neurotypical children that are all taught in one classroom setting. “It’s very structured, with the programming designed to meet every child’s needs,” shares Sara Nall, executive director of Mitchell’s Place.

Children can begin the preschool program as young as two years old, and classes go up all the way to five years old. Another benefit, particularly for working parents and children on the spectrum who need consistent structure is that unlike other typical preschools, the Early Learning Preschool is open year-round. “We’re an accredited preschool, so all of the children are very well educated by the time they are to start kindergarten,”

10 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 SPECIAL NEEDS
Illustration by Harper Kaulfold

Nall adds. “In addition, they are getting the soft skills that are hard to teach when they are older. In our program, the neurotypical children early on that all kids learn differently and there are always ways to help others. They tend to get put in inclusion classes when they are older because they tend to be great helpers when they leave our program.”

United Ability’s Hand In Hand Early Learning Program. Serving children ages six weeks to five years, Hand In Hand also incorporates children of all abilities into its classrooms. “We typically have 40% of the classroom comprised with children with disabilities and the rest are neurotypical,” explains Kim Braasch, director of Hand In Hand Early Learning Program. “Our goal is to maintain a truly inclusive ratio like you’d see out in the community.”

Through its 10 classrooms, which serve approximately 141 children every day, Hand In Hand serves kids of all needs, from those medically fragile to those with mild developmental delays. The organization also has in-house resources for physical, occupational, and speech therapies, as well as a behavioral specialist. “Kids learn side by side in every aspect of the day,” Braasch adds. “We have seen the benefits of children with disabilities being around neurotypical kids. They are motivated by it. But it also goes the other way too. Neurotypical children learn empathy and acceptance at an early age because it becomes normal quickly to see another child with a disability.”

With most of its families including two working parents, Hand In Hand is open from 7 am until 6 pm. “I’ve been here 28 years, and this is a mission and passion of ours,” Braasch says. “Once you see the impact you’re making on the children with disabilities and the neurotypical kids, it’s in your blood.”

Paige Townley is a staff writer and freelance writer.

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BirminghamParent.com | 11 SPECIAL NEEDS
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Communicate on the phone with the confidence that you will be understood

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If you live or work in Alabama, simply dial 711 (or 800-548-2928 for English or 800-548-8317 for Spanish) and ask for an STS operator. Give the operator the area code and telephone number of the person you wish to call, and they will dial it and connect you. You speak on your phone directly to the other party (1), and the STS operator will repeat your spoken words as needed for clarity (2). The other party will talk directly to you (3).

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BirminghamParent.com | 13 SPECIAL NEEDS

AIDB's New President Dr. Dennis Gilliam Has a Life-long History at the Institute

Dr. Dennis Gilliam, the new president of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, has a long history with the school.

His family could have almost come out of a movie similar to Best Picture Oscar winner “CODA” in 2022, a movie about deaf parents raising a hearing child (thus the acronym, Children of Deaf Adults). Gilliam was one of two hearing children born to his parents, who were both deaf. Both worked at the AIDB for many years. His father was educated at AIDB; and his mother at the American School For the Deaf in Connecticut.

His grandmother, who had two deaf children due to the German measles outbreak, had heard of the school in Talladega. They lived in Fayette, where she was told that two of her 5 children who were deaf should skip school and work on the farm. She wasn’t having them not have an education, and she moved the whole family to Talledega, where Gilliam’s dad and uncle were enrolled AIDB. This would pave a career for one of them there and even more for her grandchildren, Gilliam recalls.

Gilliam says his family and their careers have given him a strong tie to AIDB, and he hopes to continue the important work set out by people before him.

A veteran educator with more than 30 years of classroom and administrative experience in special education programs, Gilliam has served multiple roles at AIDB over the last three decades, including vice president of instructional programs.

“AIDB is home,” Gilliam says. In fact, he and his wife both work there. “It’s not just the place where, as a child, I’d lie on the gym floor and wait for my parents to get done with work, but having the opportunity to work in construction at AIDB and then to transition into education and administration has given me a unique perspective for AIDB statewide and throughout the nation,” Gilliam says.

“It is my distinct honor to be named the next president of the Alabama School for Deaf and Blind. I have spent nearly all my life in commitment to AIDB and am dedicated to an expectation of excellence, ensuring the level of service we have come to expect from AIDB statewide and throughout the nation,” Gilliam says. “It is a humbling realization that the AIDB Board of Trustees is entrusting me to lead this amazing institution that has provided me and my family limitless opportunities to learn, grow and succeed.”

When asked about the challenge of running AIDB in 2024, Gilliam says he believes AIDB has experienced and is still experiencing what other schools have, a sort of “Covid hangover.” Many students and teachers can feel disconnected by virtual learning, and there has to be a connection. There is a 3D aspect of signing….and there is no substitute for in-person learning,” Gilliam adds. For Gilliam, this catch-up time is vital.

Gilliam says he is still amazed that so many people do not truly comprehend what we have in AIDB in Talledega. “It [AIDB] is a tremendous asset to the state of Alabama, and one of the most comprehensive schools in the country, if not the entire world.”

Gilliam earned a doctor of education, Deaf Studies Deaf Education from Lamar University; Educational Administration Certification from the University of Montevallo, Visual Impairment Education Certification from the Univeristy of Alabama at Birmingham, and a Bachelor of science and master's of arts in Secondary Education, Mathematics from the University of Alabama. He also completed the STAR/CAEBER/AEBPD Schools on Bi-Lingual/Bi-Cultural (Deaf) Education program and published “The Relationship Between the Use of the Accelerated Reader Program and Reading Comprehension Scores” on the STAR Reading Diagnostic and SAT-10 in 2011.

For more information about the school, visit www.aidb.org.

Carol Muse Evans is publisher and editor of Birmingham Parent.

14 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 SPECIAL NEEDS

The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) is the world’s most comprehensive program for individuals who are Deaf, Blind, DeafBlind and multidisabled. With service centers across the state, AIDB empowers over 30,000 Alabamians to live without limits. Learn more at aidb.org.

How Jason Simpson's Family Became Part of the Special Needs Community

We all know WVTM 13 Chief Meteorologist Jason Simpson in Birmingham. But a series of events has led him to be a big part of the special needs community here, as well, when his youngest child was born some 8 years ago.

Jason and his wife Lacey married in 2010 and have 4 children: Walt, age 12, Shelby age 10, and Brody, age 8. Simpson recalls that his wife’s pregnancy with Brody seemed the same as times before, but he did decide “to come early.” They were still living in Hunstville at the time, and Brody was born in May 2015 at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children, then immediately taken to the Regional NICU where he was diagnosed with several immediately visible problems. “But the hidden problem was his heart,” Simpson explains. “Brody represents one in 100 kids born in the U.S. every year with congenital heart disease.”

“Brody flew with the Critical Care Transport Team to Children’s of Alabama on Mother’s Day 2015, and he had his first open heart surgery at 13 days old,” Simpson says.

“Brody’s life has been touched by almost every unit at Children’s of Alabama and by several departments at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

in Columbus, Ohio,” Simpson says. “He has had 14 major surgeries in his 8 years, and he is doing very well.”

The Simpsons credit Children’s of Alabama with saving Brody’s life, and the Simpson family, along with 3 other heart families from North Alabama, now host a fishing tournament in Scottsboro each year at Goosepoint Colony called “Castin’ ’N Catchin’ for CHD” to raise money for the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama at Children’s of Alabama. To date, Simpson says they have raised $1.1 million for the Center.

To say Brody’s birth and special needs profoundly changed the Simpson family is an understatement. “Change happens in many ways, but I think the greatest change he brought our family life is forcing us to look to Jesus for the solutions instead of trying to fight it all on our own,” Simpson explains. “Through everything we have faced, He has been with us, faith has increased and we know we are taken care of.”

Simpson is WVTM 13's Chief Meteorologist. He was awarded the American Meteorological Society’s Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal for excellence in television weather in 2007. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University at the top of his class in 2001.

He has been awarded Associated Press Best Weathercaster in Alabama and nominated for five Emmys, winning an Emmy in 2013. He is a big education advocate and helped build a curriculum for elementary and middle school science classes the the “ABC’s Of Weather” series that he produced for the Alabama Math and Science Technology Initiative. He does numerous school visits and homeschool class visits throughout the year.

The next Catchin’ ’N Castin event is April 20,2024. Learn more at www.castinncatchin.org.

16 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 SPECIAL NEEDS
Chief Meteorologist Jason Simpson, and his wife Lacy, with their children Walt, Brody and Shelby. Photo courtesy of Christy Pierce Photography.

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BirminghamParent.com | 17 SPECIAL NEEDS Visit Our special needs Directory Birmingham Parent’s Special Needs Resources Directory is where you can find local and regional resources for parents and caregivers of children with special needs. www.BirminghamParent.com/directory/special_needs_resources/
Carol Muse Evans is the publisher and editor of Birmingham Parent.
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WVTM 13's Chief Meteorologist Jason Simpson and his son Brody. Photo courtesy of Christy Pierce Photography.
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What You SHOULDN’T Say to the Parent(s) of a Child With Special Needs: Parents Weigh In

If you are a parent of a child with special needs, you know. You’ve heard some of these comments before. While many people mean well, they can say things that are upsetting, ignorant or hard to swallow.

Birmingham Parent recently sent out a call for these common comments parents have experienced, and we had an avalanche. These are just some of the many you shared with us:

“Your child should walk rather than be carried,” says Sharee Clifton, Locust Fork, AL, whose son Jace, age 4, has Spina bifida.

“I know it’s hard, having a sick child,” shares Mattisa Moorer, mom to Kerstin, age 22, of Hayneville, AL, who has multiple diagnoses, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and scoliosis. “Just because she has disabilities doesn’t mean she is ‘sick’, "Moorer says “If she were sick, we wouldn’t be in Target."

“Did you get tested while you were pregnant?” from Sandy Lovell of Alabaster, AL, mom to Allie, age 16 (who was on a Birmingham Parent cover at Easter Seals about 8 years ago) who has Down syndrome. The

implication here is awful, Lovell explains, and devalues her as a person. Another is “Are you sure she has it?” since she is high-functioning.

“Why don’t you put her in a school or an institution?” from Belinda Franks of Jasper, AL, mom of Bellah who is 18 has autism, apraxia of speech (nonverbal), fetal alcohol, Cornelia De Lange syndrome, developmentally delayed and impulse control disorder, along with tremors.

“At least you get to stay home all day,” from Taylor Ritter of Fultondale, mom to Asher, age 3, with autism level 3, sensory processing disorder, global developmental delay and who is nonverbal.

“God knew you could handle a child with a disability,” from Angela Bauman of Gardendale, mom of Aaron, age 2, who has Down syndrome.

“A little bit of gluten will not hurt him,” from Clarrisa Shelnutt of Birmingham, mom to Gabe age 15, who has eosinophilic esophagitis, gastroparesis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), growth hormone deficiency, narcolepsy, celiac disease, RA, SPD and high-functioning autism.

18 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 SPECIAL NEEDS
Jace, age 4. Photo courtesy of Sharee Clifton

“Oh, she will grow out of it,” from Lauren Manly of Shelby County, mom to Remi, age 2, with level 3 autism and who is non-verbal.

Since 2010, entrepreneur and podcast host Allison Breininger has been her husband Sean’s primary caregiver as he battles Fanconi anemia (FA), a rare genetic disorder that can cause bone marrow failure, cancer, and other systemic issues — all of which Sean has suffered from.

In that time, Breininger has received hundreds of supportive messages from friends, family, and other well-meaning folks — but she admits there are two things you should NEVER say to a caregiver, no matter how helpful you think they may be.

“‘Take care of yourself’ and ‘Let me know if there’s anything I can do’ are TWO HUGE MISSES when it comes to supporting the caregivers in your life,” explains Breininger. “The first one is seeing that the caregiver needs support, but instead of offering it, puts that task back on their already overflowing plate. The second statement seems helpful, but it actually forces the caregiver to try to figure out ‘what do I need right now, and what is this person good at,’ which is a matching game that most caregivers just don’t have time to play.”

Instead, Breininger says a better way to help caregivers is to make specific and direct offers that can help free up their time and lower their stress, such as:

• “When is a good time this week for me to sit with your loved one so you can have some time to yourself?”

• “I would love to bring you dinner this week. Is Tuesday or Thursday better for you?”

• “Since our kids are in soccer together, I’d be happy to drive them to practice this week.”

In contributing her voice to the Embracing Carers® initiative, Allison Breininger wants to raise awareness of the many challenges that caregivers face and offer suggestions to help them and their loved ones cope with the stress of the experience, including:

• Acknowledging that it’s common for caregivers to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and worried — and that it’s okay to ask for help

• Where caregivers can look for support online or in their local communities

• How non-caregivers can be more effectively supportive of the caregivers in their lives

• What siblings and other family members can do to best support the primary caregiver of a parent

• How employers can provide practical workplace benefits and resources that make it easier for caregivers to provide quality care at home while remaining productive at work

alabamafamilytrust.com info@alabamafamilytrust.com 205-883- 8333 AFT serves as trustee of special needs trusts for children living with disabilities with the goal of enhancing the quality of their lives while maintaining eligibility for government benefits. CALL NOW 205-624-8940 www.RbAofAlabama.com 108 Court Way, Pelham AL 35124 Offer expires 3/31/24. Not valid with any other offer or prior purchase. Valid on initial visit only. Minimum of 4 or more windows SPECIAL NEEDS
Remi, age 2. Photo courtesy of Lauren Manly Kerstin, age 22. Photo courtesy of Mattisa Moorer.

“One of my favorite quotes is from Nakita Valerio, who said, ‘Shouting ‘self-care’ at people who need community care is how we fail people,’” says Breininger. “Caregivers need more support at every level.”

Breininger’s podcasts are available at I-Tunes, Spotify, and whever you download podcasts. Insickness.care is the website. Breininger also works with EMD Serono, a pharmaceutical company, to raise awareness of the needs of caregivers, Embracingcarers.com. They also offer one-on-one coaching.

“We [caregivers] need support and recognition,” she adds.

“Kids with disabilities are still just kids like their same-aged typical peers,” says Jasmine Jones of Tuscaloosa, mom to Jaden, age 6, who has alpha Thalassemia X-linked intellectual disability syndrome (ATX-ID) and a GLI-3 gene mutation. “Jaden likes to be included. He doesn’t like missing out. He doesn’t have a ‘developmental age’equivalent. He is 6. He has the life experiences (and maybe even more because of his medical journey) of any other person who has experienced life for 6 years. And I don’t want to change him,” Jones explains. “The world needs to be kinder and more accommodating…Needing support because of a disability isn’t a bad thing.

“The goal isn’t to make kids with a difference less different,” Jones continues, unless it’s medically necessary, in my opinion….There is no such thing as normal! We all have differences. Embrace them,” Jones adds.

Carol Muse Evans is the publisher and editor of Birmingham Parent. Allison and her husband, Sean, live in St. Paul, Minnesota with their teenage daughter, Maya.

CHILDRENS OF ALABAMA

Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children. Ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves patients from every county in Alabama and nearly every state.

With more than 3.5 million square feet, it is one of the largest pediatric medical facilities in the United States.

Children’s offers inpatient and outpatient services at its Russell Campus on Birmingham’s historic Southside with additional specialty services provided at Children’s South, Children’s on 3rd and in Huntsville and Montgomery. Primary medical care is provided in more than a dozen communities across central Alabama.

Children’s is the only health system in Alabama dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children. It is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the teaching hospital for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. The medical staff consists of UAB faculty and Children’s full-time physicians as well as private practicing community physicians.

1600

www.ChildrensAL.org

20 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 SPECIAL NEEDS
7th Ave. South Birmingham,
AL 35233 205-638-9100
RESOURCES FOR CAREGIVERS: https://www.thenegativespace.life/ https://www.embracingcarers.com/
Bella Franks, age 18. Photo courtesy of Belinda Franks.
BirminghamParent.com | 21 SPECIAL NEEDS EXPO EXHIBITORS AND SPONSORS Visit our Special Needs directory at www.birminghamparent.com/directory/Special_Needs_Resources/ LISTEN LIVE www.mix973.fm www.wvtm13.com 1600 7th Ave. South, Birmingham, AL 35233 205-638-9100 www.ChildrensAL.org ABILITY CARE P e d i a t r i c P r i m a r y C a r e F a m i l y M e d i c i n e / P r i m a r y C a r e A d u l t & P e d i a t r i c R e h a b i l i t a t i v e C a r e O p t o m e t r y S e r v i c e s S e r v i c e C o o r d i n a t i o n B e h a v i o r a l H e a l t h C a r e & m u c h m o r e We Accept All Insurances No Insurance? Contact us about our sliding fee scale (205) 944-3944 A B I L I T Y C A R E S E R V I C E S CahabaMedicalCare.com/abilityclinic Jennifer Reagan Rock 205-835-3645 jreagan@rbaofal.com renewalbyanderson.com www.bcbsal.org You TalkWe Re-voice for You! Dial 711 or 800-548-2928 AlabamaRelay.com/sts 205-969-2880 www.Glenwood.org unlessu.org 205-460-1550

Products We Love For the New Bundle of Joy

Whether you have a baby on the way yourself, a new baby at home or are looking for that perfect shower gift, here are some great ideas.

BreathableBaby Portable Sleeper

The Breathable Mesh Portable Sleeper in Beech White is perfect for jet-setting parents with a newborn. This lightweight and compact sleeper offers a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for your little one, whether you're on a road trip, staying in hotels, or visiting friends and family. Slightly bigger than a bassinet but smaller than a crib — it’s cradle size. Ideal for infants and newborn stage.

Available: Amazon.com | Price: $238.99

Gladly Family Travel Crib & Playard

Worry-free playtime from birth and beyond! Gladly Family’s Portable Playard will be your favorite new accessory for your child. Ready to grow with your little one from infancy to toddler, the travel crib and playard feature an easy setup and include a back-pack style storage bag for convenient traveling.

Available: Amazon.com | Price: $249.99

Momcozy All-In-One M5 Wearable Breast Pump

Winner of the 2024 Mother & Baby Awards & 2023 Preferred Choice Award  Momcozy’s revolutionary baby mouth breast pump ensures a painless pumping experience and stimulates more letdowns. Featuring an innovative vibrate-to-pump feature, the All-In-One Breast Pump assists in loosening the ducts simultaneously during the pumping process, guaranteeing a consistently smooth extraction and thorough emptying every single time.

Available: Amazon.com | Price: $119.99

22 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 BABY & ME

Get Vaccinated • Protect Against Covid & Flu

The COVID-19 Vaccine is currently available to anyone 6 months of age and older. The vaccine is safe and effective. Don't wait, get vaccinated today to help stop the spread and keep our community safe.

BirminghamParent.com | 23

Great Podcasts For Expectant Moms

There are few moments more exhilarating than the moment you realize that you’re pregnant and that you one day will hold a precious little life in your arms. As you seek advice from family and friends on how to make the pregnancy as smooth as possible, consider another great source of information: podcasts produced by experts on pregnancy and childbirth. The thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them whenever you have a spare moment, even when you’re doing other things. Here’s a list of some of the very best podcasts for expectant moms.

All About Pregnancy & Birth

(Available at Apple, Audible, Spotify)

You are in good hands with Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, the creator and host of All About Pregnancy & Birth. An experienced OB/GYN who has helped deliver more than one thousand babies during her career, she also teaches a popular, online birthing course. Her podcast is a fascinating mix of research-based advice, pregnancy and childbirth anecdotes recounted by Dr. Rankins and stories of how it is to be pregnant and give birth from moms of all ages.

Birthful

(Available at: Apple, Audible, Spotify )

Adriana Lozada, the creator of Birthful, is another well-known expert on all things pregnancy and birth. A practicing doula for many years, she offers both birthing and post-partum preparation courses online and works as a sleep consultant. On her podcast, she talks with other experts about pregnancy and childbirth. Recent episodes explore topics such as how to decide what type of birth is right for you and how to make it the most enjoyable experience possible.

Informed Pregnancy

(Available at: Apple, Pandora, Spotify)

Another great pregnancy-related podcast is Informed Pregnancy, produced by Dr. Elliott Berlin, a prenatal and postpartum chiropractor in private practice who also teaches various workshops for expectant and

newly-mined moms. In line with his expertise as a chiropractor, many of the episodes focus on such topics as how best to stay fit during and after pregnancy, including how to maintain a firm and strong pelvic floor and how yoga can enhance your overall well-being.

Pregnancy Pearls

(Available at: Apple, Audible, Spotify)

Like Dr. Rankins, Dr. Nicole Plenty is a well-known physician. In fact, she’s double board-certified as an OB/GYN and a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist which, in lay terms, means that she’s an expert on high-risk pregnancies. On her podcast, Pregnancy Pearls, Dr. Rankins educates women about various risk factors and how you can expert physicians to deal with them, including asthma, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and preeclampsia, among other medical issues.

Pregnancy and Birth Made Easy

(Available at: Apple, Audible, Spotify)

Finally, take a listen to Pregnancy and Birth Made Easy, by Cortney Hart and Stephanie King, two experienced doulas and childbirth educators who offer pregnancy and postpartum courses. A particularly useful feature of their podcast is the frequent episodes titled “Birth Stories.” During these episodes, many of the women Courtney and Stephanie have worked with discuss their pregnancy experiences and what they did to make their journeys as enjoyable as could be.

Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences, and Disorders at The City University of New York – Brooklyn College.

24 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 BABY & ME

Making Your Home Safe for Baby

Courtesy of Family Features

Your little one’s on-the-go adventures mark a huge milestone for his or her development and your family. Before you allow your baby free run of the home, get your home readywith these safety steps and precautions:

Prepare Before the Birth

First-time parents are likely to embark upon a new life filled with late nights, sleep deprivation and a world of stresses they’ve never experienced or considered. Prepare your home before the baby is born to avoid the panic of waiting until the last minute.

DOES YOUR CHILD STRUGGLE IN SCHOOL?

Tour Like Your Tot

See the world from the same level. Take a crawling tour around your home to see things that may be in the way or discover hazardous items that are within easy reach.

Latch it Up

Protect your little one from sharp objects and heavy items by installing child protection latches on all cabinets and drawers. For an added layer of protection, keep any sharp objects and harmful chemicals in high places only adults can reach.

Evaluate Leaning Objects

Bookshelves, bedside tables and the items placed on them, such as television sets and other large appliances, can be a threat to the safety of a small child trying to pull him or herself up and balance on two feet. Ensure these items are properly secured or keep them put away unless in use to avoid them being pulled on top of your child.

Other Safety Measures

• Cover electrical outlets with safety plugs

• Place safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases

• Install fireplace screens

• Add foam padding to sharp furniture corners and edges

• Place a soft cover over the bathtub waterspout

• Remove blinds with looped cords or install safety tassels and cord stops

• Stock your first aid kit

• Put non-slip pads under rugs

Find more tips to child-proof your home at eLivingtoday.com.

Bridge Educational Services creates bridges from frustration

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Bridge services include educational screenings, tutoring services, educational therapy, workshops and camps that aim at strengthening cognitive, social-emotional and motor-sensory growth.

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BABY & ME

The Toddler Instruction Manual

“It’s a good thing you are so cute!”

Many parents often think or say this during the challenging toddler years as they find themselves cleaning up messes, potty training, listening to shouts of “No!” with every suggestion, and watching their child throw yet another tantrum.

As a mom of six kids, including 7 year old triplets, we have had our fair share of challenging toddler moments. At the end of most days it felt like a triplet tornado had gone through my house, but when I tucked them in at night I remembered there were lots of sweet moments as well.

Toddlers are defined as kids ranging from ages 1-3 years old and during this time they meet many developmental milestones including learning to walk, talk, interact with others and explore the world around them. As a parent this can be a joy to watch but can also become exhausting as kids express their independence and work out their frustrations through tantrums. While all of this is normal, parents can feel overwhelmed and frustrated as well. Toddlers don’t come with an instruction manual, but these tips could help you survive and perhaps even enjoy the toddler years.

PATIENCE

When parenting a toddler, your patience will be stretched to the limits. Whenever you're dealing with a child, it’s best to remember they are learning and testing limits. Try to give grace to yourself and your child and allow for bumps along the way. Set boundaries for your child but try to remain calm in moments when these limits are tested. Arguing with a toddler is never worth the effort. If you feel yourself becoming angry, simply walk away for a few minutes and return when your patience has returned. Modeling this behavior will help your child understand how to work out their own frustrations in a healthy way.

LAUGHTER

The old saying “Laughter is the best medicine.” could be applied to parenthood. When things seem particularly stressful or you are overwhelmed by a messy playroom, a little laughter can turn your mood around. Allow yourself to be silly and play with your child. Try to slow down and see the world through their eyes.

ANTICIPATION

One of the best ways to help keep your toddler from getting into trouble is to anticipate what might be tempting for little ones. Before nap or playtime, scan the room for dangers or messes waiting to happen.. Pack

your car with an extra change of clothing, emergency snacks and diaper supplies in case you need them when you are away from home. When you are headed out of the house, try to leave a few minutes early in case you need extra time. If you know a toy or situation triggers your child to feel frustrated, avoid it if possible. You can’t prevent every tantrum and challenge you will face, but some can be avoided with a little planning.

LET IT GO

Life is too short to worry about having a perfectly clean house. Toddlers are famous for making messes, dumping toys, and moving from one thing to the next in minutes. During the toddler years try to focus on playing with your kids and allowing them to have fun rather than exhausting yourself cleaning. There will be plenty of years in the not too distant future where your house will stay clean. If toy clutter is stressful to you, reduce the amount of toys that are out at any given time. Toddlers are often motivated by music, play or sing “The Cleanup Song” and have your child help pick up toys before transitioning to mealtime or bedtime.

SAFETY

Toddlers are naturally curious which helps them learn and develop. This curiosity can lead them to do things that are unsafe like climbing where they could fall, putting things in their mouths and getting into things they shouldn’t. Create a safe place for your child where they can play without safety concerns.

ROUTINE

Toddlers thrive on routine because they know what to expect. When kids know what to expect, transitions are smoother for kids. The whole day doesn't have to be planned but having a routine at transitional periods of the day can make things easier for parents and little ones. Naps, bedtime, meals, and clean up time can give your kids consistency that they thrive on.

PERSPECTIVE

When dealing with the highs and lows of parenting a toddler, try to keep some perspective. The toddler years are short and your child is learning, discovering the world and growing every day. When they are still and quiet, cuddle up and enjoy the moment. When they want to be carried, try to remember all too soon they will be too big. Enjoy the sweet moments, embrace challenging ones, and try to remember that toddlers are cute for a reason and this stage will pass in the blink of an eye.

Sarah

26 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 BABY & ME
freelance writer.
Lyons is a
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One in five people has a disability—and many disabilities, including Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, blindness, dwarfism and many others can be present at birth or diagnosed shortly after. So it’s likely that each of us will have a friend, family member or colleague who will be in this situation and it’s helpful to think ahead to what words of support you can share.

When a baby comes into the world, we celebrate dreams, hope and possibility. The truth is that no parent knows what the future will hold for their baby and that reality is downright frightening. We cuddle and coo over babies who will grow up to face both mundane and serious challenges, but we put that reality out of our minds and focus on the here and now with our babies.

The reality is, parenting a child who is different from the child you imagined takes time to process. What your friend needs most is for you to listen, to keep inviting and including them in social events, to regularly ask how you can best help/support them. A mom whose son has Down syndrome and autism shared one of the most helpful things that a friend said to her shortly after her son’s birth: “I don’t know what to say right now, but I love you and I love your son.” Be a listening ear and be sure not to project your fears or anxieties onto your friend.

When a baby is born with a disability, the challenges that they will face are immediately apparent—and that is scary for everyone to face. But as we, as a society, come to better understand the complex and meaningful lives of people with disabilities we will hopefully reach a day when every child who enters the world can be seen for more than his/her disability.

-Sincerely,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Therapist Aaron Mills, LMFT, ATR, PH-C

If you are interested in submitting a question or topic for discussion please email info@millsperinatalwellnessgroup.com.

28 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024
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32 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 CAMPS Visit our Kids Camp Directory Online www.birminghamparent.com/directory/ kids-camps/

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8 Outstanding Attractions for Kids in North Alabama

From a big cat park adventure to space exploration, there are so many ways to have fun

Courtesy of Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association

It’sno wonder North Alabama is a popular destination for families.

The collection of attractions and activities for youngsters of all ages includes outdoor fun, from waterparks to animal adventures to one-of-akind museums that immerse, amaze, entertain and much more. The region spans 16 of the state’s northernmost counties and is filled with unmatched variety. Small towns, bustling downtowns and wide-open spaces are all a part of the landscape. And attractions, from high-tech space camp and innovative science museums to exhilarating water parks and engaging historic sites, offer plenty of options for entertaining the younger set.

Here are the picks for some of the top attractions for making memories for the whole family on a kid-focused North Alabama adventure.

1.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center  (1 Tranquility Base, Huntsville, Alabama 35805; 256-551-2230) is home to one of the largest collections of rockets and space memorabilia on display anywhere in the world. The Smithsonian Affiliate is the Visitor Center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and draws visitors from around the globe for week-long Space Camp adventures.

explore, interact with and learn about nature. North American habitats and ecosystems, from deserts to oceans, to the Arctic, to forests, to caves, are all interpreted through live animal exhibits, aquariums, mounted wildlife displays, rock, mineral, shell and coral collections and more.

Tigers For Tomorrow (710 County Road 345, Attalla, Alabama 35954; 256-524-4150) is a wild animal park and environmental education center that is home to more than 130 animals. Visitors can get up close and personal with a variety of big cats, wolves and bears. Children can also interact with barnyard animals in the contact yard. The park offers general admission tickets as well as guided tours.

2. 3.

EarlyWorks Children’s Museum (404 Madison Street, Huntsville, Alabama 35801; 256-564-8100) explores history in a hands-on, interactive museum designed for the enjoyment of two- to nine-year-olds. It is part of a unique campus that is home to two more historical attractions, Alabama Constitution Hall Park and the Historic Huntsville Depot.

Cook Museum of Natural Science (133 4th Avenue NE, Decatur, Alabama 35601; 256-351-4505) is a fascinating natural science museum filled with hands-on, immersive experiences where kids can

Imagination Place Children's Museum (501 Broad Street, Gadsden, Alabama 35902; 256-543-2787) has hands-on activities and interactive games to keep children entertained for hours. Children can learn how a city works through interactive play in the KidsTown USA exhibit and experience changing educational exhibits in the exhibition hall. It’s located on the campus of the Hardin Center for Cultural Arts which also has three art galleries and a 72-foot working model.

Noccalula Falls Park (1500 Noccalula Road, Gadsden, Alabama 35904; 256-549-4663) features a 90-foot waterfall, 15 miles of hiking, biking and running trails, a train ride, a petting zoo, a botanical garden, pioneer village and mini-golf course. The falls are named for the daughter of a legendary Native American chief, who was “famed far and wide for her beauty and loveliness of character.”

4. 5. 6. 7.

GoFAR USA Park (895 S Bethel Road, Decatur, Alabama 35603; 256-345-0797) GoFAR USA Park is an outdoor adventure park

34 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024
FAMILY TRAVEL
Lake Guntersville State Park Photo Courtesy of Scott Baker for AL Mountain Lakes Tourist Association

where the adventures just keep coming. There are trails for running, mountain biking and hiking, zip lines, a climbing wall and a natural playscape. Add a farm petting zoo, paintball shooting range, obstacle courses, and scooter and trail board rental and there is something for kids of all ages to enjoy.

Helen Keller Birthplace (300 North Commons West, Tuscumbia, Alabama 35674; 256-383-4066) Built in 1820, this site, known as Ivy Green, tells the inspirational story of Helen Keller. The house, built by Helen’s grandparents, still contains many of the original furnishings and items relating to the life of America’s “First Lady of Courage.” In addition to the main house, the site includes Helen’s birthplace cottage, a memorial fountain, herb gardens and the carriage house.

IF YOU GO

North Alabama is home to some beautiful state parks that feature a variety of kid-friendly activities. Cathedral Caverns State Park (637 Cave Road, Woodville, Alabama 35776; 256-728-8193) is known for its cave, home of a stalagmite forest and frozen waterfall. And Rickwood Caverns State Park's (370 Rickwood Park Road, Warrior, Alabama 35180; 205-647-9692) claim to fame is its miracle mile of underground caverns, with 260-millionyear-old limestone formations, blind cave fish and underground pool.

Joe Wheeler State Park (4401 McLean Drive, Rogersville, Alabama 35652; 256-247-5461) is home to 69,700-acre Wheeler Lake, which offers easy access to the Tennessee River and is popular with sailors, cruisers and anglers. Lake Guntersville State Park (1155 Lodge Drive, Guntersville, Alabama 35976; 256-571-5440) is a 6,000-acre park located along the shores of Lake Guntersville popular among anglers, sailors and cruisers, and is home to The Screaming Eagle Aerial Adventures zip line course. Both parks have lodge and cabin rentals, restaurants and an 18-hole championship golf course.

There are plenty of other options for family-friendly adventures on the water in North Alabama, too. Beardo Outdoors (1025 Park Street, Florence, Alabama 35630; 256-577-5138) is an outfitter that specializes in creating a memorable experience, offering guided and self-guided tours of SUPs, kayaks and canoes on the Tennessee River and beautiful Cypress Creek. At one of the largest private off-road parks in the South, the 4,700 acres at Indian Mountain ATV Park (11620 County Road 8, Piedmont, Alabama 36272; 256-300-1223) are crisscrossed with trails for riding ATVs, UTVs and dirt bikes. Family fun continues along miles of scenic hiking trails, including a stretch of the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail, as well as in camping and fishing areas.

For more information, visit www.NorthAlabama.org.

BirminghamParent.com | 35 FAMILY TRAVEL
8.
Rickwood Cavern State Park Photo Courtesy of Alabama State Park

Calendar - March-April 2024

March and April bring all sorts of events and activities to the Magic City as spring knocks on the door dragging summer behind it. There are lots of shows and walks during this time, and Easter Sunday falls in March, as well. Be sure not to miss Birmingham Parent’s TWO big events, both this month, Camp Expo on March 2 and Special Needs Expo on March 16. And always check out our calendar online, as this listing is simply HIGHLIGHTS of all the great fun available to families in the area for March and April. Use the handy QR code provided, or visit https://birminghamparent.com/ directory/events/#!/. You can also upload your great events here!

March

01 FRIDAY

Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume

10a.m-5pm, Birmingham Museum of Art. Comprised of 70 costumes spanning nearly half a century, this captivating show takes visitors on a journey into the enchanting worlds of Disney, highlighting the innovative ways some of the iconic characters are brought to life through the artistry and imagination of their costumes. $30.

VIEW ONLINE

Red Diamond Classic 2024 Boys Tournament

8am. The Red Diamond Classic is celebrating its 26th year! This event is one of the largest spring soccer tournaments in the southeast and brings together over 300 teams to Birmingham for two exciting weekends of competitive soccer fun. The event is held at multiple locations. To find out where and when specific teams play visit www.birminghamunited.com/tournaments/

VIEW ONLINE

02

SATURDAY

Birmingham Parent’s Camp Expo 2024

10am-3pm, Vestavia Hills Civic Center. Come be a part of the 31st annual Camp Expo and see what your kids want to do this

summer, whether it be a day or overnight camp, summer program or workshop and more. Live entertainment on our stage, great giveaways, visit Celebrations Row for great party ideas and vendors. Swag bags to first 100 at the Birmingham Parent booth. Sponsorships and vendor booths still available. FREE admission.

VIEW ONLINE

Presenting: Super Cat and Reptile Robotin the Tremendous Tickle Trouble

10am,Birmingham Children's Theatre,.

Presenting: Super Cat and Reptile Robot explores how to speak up, listen, and work through our differences. WeeFolks Show. $17

VIEW ONLINE

04 MONDAY

Tight-Knit Knitting Group for Cancer Patients 3-5 pm, Wallace Tumor Institute, UAB. Tight-Knit is a knitting group open to all patients of UAB Medicine Oncology. Join us to learn a new craft and build a new support community. The group will be led by UAB Heersink School of Medicine student Sarika Mullapudi and volunteers from Blazing Hooks and Needles. No knitting experience is required, as Tight-Knit is open to all skill levels. Supplies and instruction will be provided. However, if you already have yarn, needles or projects that you are working on, feel free to bring them.

VIEW ONLINE

06 WEDNESDAY

Barkin' BINGO

6:30-8:30pm., Ghost Train Brewing Company. Grab your pups (or don't!) and come try your luck at Bingo for awesome prizes! Free to play. Bring your furry friend for

a free extra card. This event is all ages, pupfriendly, and free!

VIEW ONLINE

07 THURSDAY

Support Group for Patients with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

6:30pm. Levite Jewish Community Center. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation will continue to provide free monthly support groups for individuals with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and their family members. The support group meets on the first Thursday of the month. FREE

VIEW ONLINE

08 FRIDAY

Red Diamond Classic 2024 Girls Tournament

8am, Rathmell Sports Park. The Red Diamond Classic is celebrating its 26th year! This event is one of the largest spring soccer tournaments in the southeast and brings together over 300 teams to Birmingham for two exciting weekends of competitive soccer fun. The Red Diamond Classic is directed by and benefits local youth soccer, via Birmingham United Soccer Association (BUSA). The event will be held at multiple field locations.

VIEW ONLINE

09 SATURDAY

Friends of the Chelsea Library Book Sale 9am-1pm . Chelsea Library www.cityofchelsea.com.

VIEW ONLINE

Indoor Yard Sale

8am-Noon. Pelham Recreation Center.

VIEW ONLINE

PLEASE NOTE: Calendar information should be uploaded to our website at https://portal.cityspark.com/EventEntry/EventEntry/BirminghamParent and may appear in print if uploaded by deadline. You may also go to www.birminghamparent.com and simply click on the calendar icon. Information cannot be accepted over the phone. Birmingham Parent publishes a calendar 6 times a year. January events are included in the November/December issue. Deadline for the May/June 2024 PRINT calendar is April 8, 2024. Guidelines: Birmingham Parent’s calendar is intended to be a resource and service to the community and our readers. Events which are open to the public, fundraisers, free classes, etc., are events that may be included in our monthly calendar. We reserve the right to reject any event or listing due to rules or space restrictions. For questions regarding calendar entries, call 205-624-2405 or e-mail info@birminghamparent.com. Be sure to check ahead with the actual venue as events are subject to change.

12 TUESDAY

Sofia Talvik at Live at Hoover Public Library

7pm. Hoover Public Library. Sofia Talvik is a rare artist and an avid storyteller with a voice comparable to giants like Joni Mitchell, or as the Folk/Americana Magazine NoDepression said. Her latest album "Center of the Universe" was released in 2023. Throughout the 10 songs on the album, there is a broad range of topics of some of life’s most earnest moments, ranging from the Ukraine War, American women’s rights, the thousands of missing children in the US and the torment of domestic violence survivors across the world.

FREE VIEW ONLINE

16 SATURDAY

13th Annual Birmingham Parent’s Special Needs Expo

10am-2pm, The Exceptional Foundation, Homewood. Come be a part of the “Favorite Community Event in Alabama,” according to Alabama Press Association. Live entertainment on our stage, great giveaways and demonstrations and more. Swag bags to first 100 at the Birmingham Parent booth. Sponsorships and vendor booths still available. FREE admission. VIEW ONLINE

13th Annual Holi Festival

11am-5pm., Birmingham Museum of Art. Celebrate the vibrant and joyous Holi Festival with the Indian Cultural Society at the Birmingham Museum of Art’s 13th annual event. Embrace the spirit of Holi, a traditional Indian festival marking the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil. This colorful celebration is filled with live music, dance performances, art activities, and of course, the iconic throwing of colored powders. Suitable for all ages. www.artsbma.org. VIEW ONLINE

24 SUNDAY

Palm Sunday

26 TUESDAY

Single Mother's Conference

5:30-7:30pm., Renew Birmingham. The threeday conference is for all of single mothers who are looking for guidance, resources, workshops and networking opportunities. This conference is for you, sign up on EVENTBRITE TODAY. If you would like to be a speaker or volunteer, call 205-201-4275. VIEW ONLINE

29 FRIDAY

Good Friday

31 SUNDAY Easter Sunday

April

01 SATURDAY April Fools Day

06 SATURDAY

JUNIE B. JONES THE MUSICAL!

11am, Birmingham Children's Theatre. America's favorite kindergartener is back, but this time in FIRST GRADE! Armed with her "Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal" Junie B tackles new and changing friendships, a kickball tournament,and the need for *GASP * glasses! Audiences of all ages will fall in love with Junie B! $25 VIEW ONLINE

Running for the Bulls 5K & 1M Trail Run

9-10am, Oak Mountain State Park BMX Track. The 5th Annual Running for the Bulls 5K and Fun Run participants are welcome to run/ walk with or without a dog. If you are running with your canine coach, your pup is eligible to win a medal, too! Register online and avoid the race-day rush. This is a family and furfriendly event to raise money for Bama Bully Rescue. This is a rain-or-shine event, so plan for muddy trails and lots of fun! FEE 205 620 2524, www.bamabully.org. $15 - $40 VIEW ONLINE

12 FRIDAY

Spring Plant Sale

SCAN CODE TO VIEW MORE EVENTS ONLINE:

8am,. Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The nonprofit Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens will host its annual Spring Plant Sale. Hundreds of plants,many of which have been nurtured at the Gardens by the Friends dedicated volunteer growing groups will be available for purchase. Proceeds from the sale will support the Friends mission: to protect, nurture, and share the wonders of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The sale will be held in the Gardens FREE VIEW ONLINE

13 SATURDAY

2024 Red Shoe Run: Rockin' 5K

7-11am, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama, Red Shoe Run: Rockin’ 5K, presented by McDonald’s, is an annual celebration of family, fundraising and awareness for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama. Participants can run/ walk two-course options: 5K and 1 Mile. Can’t make it in person? Select the Snoozer option during registration! All money raised through the Red Shoe Run stays at the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham to keep families together at a time when it’s needed most. www.rmhca.org. VIEW ONLINE

14 SUNDAY

Paws in the Park

2-5pm, City Park, pelhamalabama.gov. VIEW ONLINE

20 SATURDAY

Bob Sykes BBQ & BLUES Festival

Noon-8pm., DeBardeleben Park in Downtown Historic Bessemer. Barbecue and Blues are a great combination of the best of blues music and legendary Bob Sykes Bar B. Gates open at 11am. Be sure to bring your chair or blanket and set up your spot for the day to enjoy talented blues musicians. $20 VIEW ONLINE

Free Childbirth Class

9m-Noon, Crescent Cultural Community Center. Join us for a FREE , in-person childbirth class taught by a Lamaze-certified instructor. VIEW ONLINE

30 TUESDAY

Casting Crowns - 20th Anniversary Tour 7pm, The Alabama Theatre. alabamatheatre. com. $35 - $85 VIEW ONLINE

Area Attractions/Events

n Aldridge Botanical Gardens 3530 Lorna Road, Hoover. 205-682-8019. www.aldridgegardens.com

n Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame 1631 Fourth Ave. N., Birmingham. 205-254-2731. www.jazzhall.com

n Alabama School of Fine Arts 1800 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd.. www.asfa.k12.al.us

n Alabama Sports Hall of Fame 2150 Richard Arrington Blvd. N., Birmingham. 323-6665. www.ashof.org

n Alabama Wildlife Center 100 Terrace Dr., Pelham. 205663-7930. www.awrc.org

Birmingham. 205-414-3900. www.bbgardens.org

n Birmingham Children’s Theatre 1001 19th St. North, Birmingham, AL, 35203, 205-458-8181. www.bct123.org

n Birmingham Civil Rights Institute 16th St. N., Birmingham. 205328-9696. www.bcri.org

n Birmingham Zoo 2630 Cahaba Rd., Birmingham. 205-879-0409.

www.birminghamzoo.com

n Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum

1919 Ninth St., Calera. 205-668-3435. www.hodrrm.org

n Jefferson County Library Cooperative

n Oak Mountain State Park 200 Terrace Drive, Pelham. 205-620-2520.

www.alapark.com

n Ruffner Mountain Nature Center

1214 81st St. S., Birmingham. 205-833-8264, www.ruffnermountain.org

n American Village Highway 119, Montevallo. 205-665-3535. www.americanvillage.org

n Barber Motorsports Park 6040 Barber Motorsports Parkway, Leeds. 205-298-9040. www.barbermotorsports.com

n Birmingham Botanical Gardens www.bbgardens.org/ documents/treasuremapforweb. pdf 2612 Lane Park Rd.,

n Birmingham Museum of Art Hand-Held: The Four Seasons in Chinese Painting. 10am-5pm, Birmingham Museum of Art. Through the lens of the four seasons, this exhibition explores the intimate visual storytelling experience found within small-scale Chinese landscape paintings. (205) 254-2565. Through March 5.

Ways of Seeing: Sports and Games. 10am-5pm, Birmingham Museum of Art. An exhibition drawn from across the Museum's permanent collection that shows the influence of sports and games on art. (205) 254-2565, www. birmingham365.org. Through May 21.

2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., Birmingham. 205-2542565, www.artsbma.org

n Birmingham Public Libraries Find a library near you for all kinds of fun events and enrichment! www.bplonline.org

Find a library close to you for all kinds of fun events and enrichment! www.jclc.org

n McWane Science Center • IMAX Films

200 19th St. N., Birmingham. 205-714-8300, www.mcwane.org.

n Moss Rock Preserve Preserve Parkway, Hoover. 205-739-7141.

www.hooveral.org

n Shelby County Public Libraries Find a library near you for all kinds of fun events and enrichment! www.shelbycounty-al.org

n Southern Museum of Flight 4343 73rd St. N., Birmingham. 205-833-8226.

www.southernmuseumofflight.org

n Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

12632 Confederate Parkway, McCalla. 205-477-5711.

www.tannehill.org

n Vulcan Park 1701 Valley View Drive, Birmingham. 205-933-1409.

www.vulcanpark.org

As always check ahead for hours and dates of operation, ticket pricing and more.

38 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024
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40 | Birmingham Parent | March/April 2024 BIRMINGHAM PARENT’S SPECIAL NEEDS EXPO COMING “IN-PERSON” IN MARCH, 2022! BIRMINGHAM PARENT’S 2022 Fun activities, booths for parents to visit with programs and services for all types of special needs, cradle to college ages. Swag bags full of goodies to the first 200 people at Birmingham Parent booth. Great giveaways! Sponsorships and vendor booths available! Contact your marketing consultant, send an email to info@birminghamparent.com, visit www.birminghamparent.com or call... 205-624-2405. Don’t miss being a part of this event! Presented by Children’s of Alabama SAVE THE DATE! March 16, 2024 The Exceptional Foundation BOOTHS AND SPONSORSHIPS STILL AVAILABLE! Call 205-624-2405 Email info@birminghamparent.com or go to www.birminghamparent.com Now in its 13th year in Birmingham! Saturday March 16, 2024 from 10am to 2pm at 1616 Oxmoor Road, Birmingham, AL ADMISSION IS FREE Swag bags to first 100 visitors Don't miss being a part of this event! Fun activities, booths for parents to visit with programs and services for all types of special needs, cradle to college ages. Great giveaways! Presented by: Sponsored by: Renewal by Andersen
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