Integrative Touch for Kids' desire is to manifest a new model of wellness for children with special health needs and their families. We are committed to creating innovative programs that acknowledge the relational nature of healing within dynamic family and community systems. We aim to see new models of wellness emerging for children and families that are responsive to their unique needs. To that end, Integrative Touch for Kids is determined to create a healing retreat center for children with special health needs and their family members to focus on healing, receive education and information, and develop community support networks. The pressures financially, physically, spiritually and emotionally that are placed on families with children with special health needs are extensive. Few programs exist utilizing a “whole systems approach” to support these families. Integrative Touch for Kids is creating a new model of wellness that is based upon an integration of family and community systems to maximize healing potentials. The goal of the healing retreat center is to create a safe, nurturing place where families and children with special health needs can experience transformation and support to further their healing journeys. The Integrative Touch for Kids Healing Retreat Center will combine a family systems approach with the best available integrative healing therapies and appropriate medical supervision and care. The intention is to provide an environment in which both children’s and caregiver’s physical, psychological and spiritual needs will be met and where healing work addressing personal and family dynamics and interpersonal relationships can be explored.
“I remember leaving the retreat with my four boys and my husband thinking – There is no mountain we cannot climb. There is no ocean we cannot swim. We will have those challenges, but there is nothing that we are not going to be able to conquer together anymore. We can do this. I cannot say I had that going in.” Sandra Swanson, mother
“Before our involvement with ITK, our family was stressed and disconnected from one another. Now we talk more, understand each other better, and feel much more calm and connected.” Rachelle Lee, mother
ITK Healing Retreats give families respite and relief, while providing experiences and tools that allow families to heal, reconnect and find their inner strength.
ITK Healing Retreats are educational and experiential and serve as a catalyst for change and new possibilities for everyone involved. Children with special health needs, their caregivers and siblings experience integrative healing services, education and support groups throughout the week, while also connecting with each other and other families.
Children with special health needs and their families benefit from complementary and integrative therapies to support conventional medical approaches. Therapies such as massage, meditation, acupuncture and others are beneficial in the management of stress, anxiety, and pain, and support healing for the body, mind and spirit.
“The model that ITK has introduced is what families always look for. There are a number of modalities or therapies out there for them to do, but they learn about them singly, one at a time. ITK gives them a broad look at what’s available and they, knowing their children, can pick and choose from what’s available to find what they feel might work best.” Christian Peters, MD
An integrative healing team of more than 70+ providers volunteer and deliver a range of professional services at each retreat, including:
• Lifestyle and nutrition counseling
• Conventional and integrative therapies
• Art, music, dance, and energy therapies
• Support groups specifically designed for children with special health needs, their parents and caregivers, and their siblings.
Many families with special health needs would have difficulty accessing these healing therapies due to time, financial constraints, and transportation difficulties. Volunteer providers give more than 1,000 hours at each retreat, enabling families from diverse social and economic backgrounds to learn new skills and experience life-changing therapies they might otherwise be unable to access or afford.
Family members participate in the program together, strengthening their interpersonal relationships and fostering communication and understanding.
“A lot of it has just been Tyre and me and the boys dealing with it ourselves. To meet other people who understood, talking with them, knowing that they understood the emotion and the fears. And then for the practitioners finding ways of releasing that fear and releasing the stress. It was just amazing.” Rachelle Lee, Mother
Families connect with other families. ITK seeks to involve families from similar geographic regions in the same retreat to help foster the development of new networks of support within home communities. These networks include host families that do not have children with special health needs to promote integration into the broader community and to break down the stigma and isolation that families often face.
“At first, I worried about what people were going to think about me, and if I was going to make friends, but from the very beginning we all connected. It felt like being with family. I liked being in a place where I could be myself. I really liked meeting people that didn’t judge me when I said I couldn’t do something because of my disease or that I was just too tired. I also like being able to be myself and not have to worry about what other people thought because the other families we were with have gone through a lot of the same scary stuff me and my family have gone through.” – Logan Lee, Retreat Participant
Following an ITK Healing Retreat, families return to their home communities with new tools for coping, nurturing each other, and thriving as a family. Each family is assigned a personal health coach for one year following the retreat. The health coach monitors and supports the family’s progress, and provides additional resources, education and information. The health coach also strives to help each family broaden its support network in the community.
ITK continues to support families in other ways through education, training and support groups. We offer online educational workshops during which families can ask questions, practice new skills, and connect with other families across the country. Families that live close to one another geographically maintain close ties and are encouraged to create support networks within their own communities.
Integrative Touch for Kids future healing center will serve as the locus for a new model of wellness for children and families. It will be located in the beautiful desert climate of Tucson, Arizona. The Tucson community has established a unique niche as one of the leading communities in the country for wellness and Integrative Medicine. Educational programs developed through the University of Arizona have been pivotal in shaping the field as a whole. Tucson has been a leader in developing treatment and wellness centers and lays claim to world class resorts and destination spas. Additional community resources provide a nurturing environment for healing using a therapeutic approach. Given this rich history, Integrative Touch for Kids has determined to create a healing retreat center for children with special health needs and their families in this extraordinary community. Opportunities for collaboration and mutual support abound and Integrative Touch for Kids is constantly engaged in reaching out to leaders in the fields of pediatrics, integrative medicine and wellness.
When we first met Logan, he was a shy thirteen year old dealing with the challenges of a rare liver and kidney disease. He joined us for the first Healing Retreat Program in 2009, along with his mother, father and sixteen year old brother. During their stay, Logan and his famiy had the opportunity to receive new healing therapies in an environment that was safe, understanding and nurturing.
Click here to hear Logan talk about his experience.
Thank You from Taylor
Thank you to all of you for supporting this amazing organization. The transformation that is possible for every family member who will be abe to experience the ITK healing retreat because of your generous donations is truly remarkable.
- Taylor, Healing Retreat Participant 2010