Mom’s mission to create social services directory for special needs children

Kayla Kruk
Kayla Kruk

Sara Kruk holds many titles. She is a wife, mother and a behavior facilitator in a Chittenden County school. One title, unique to her, is creator of a special online social services directory that helps families and children.

Her passion for Kayla’s Directory was fueled by her daughter, Kayla. The guide boasts being the only Vermont online resource and service site designed to help families with children that have special needs.

Kruk, her husband, Josh, their older daughter, Kelcie, 13, and Kayla, a first-grader at Shelburne Community School, live in Shelburne. Kruk said she knew Kayla wasn’t hitting the milestones she should for development of motor skills by six months of age. Slowly, as the family gained knowledge about Kayla’s special needs, including a diagnosis of autism, they received the assistance they needed. By the age of two, Kayla was walking with the aid of small braces on her legs.

Kaylo Kruk smiles while out in the sun
Kayla Kruk

“She’s made vast improvements,” said Kruk. “She still fatigues out pretty easily, and this is our life and our routine.”

Fueled by her desire to achieve the best quality of life for Kayla, Kruk designed the non-profit site that really took off in November. At a glance, the site lists categories of resources, a photo gallery, Kruk’s blog about life and adventures the family experiences with Kayla and events in the area fine-tuned for children with disabilities.

Kruk is quick to applaud local businesses and programs that help families with special needs. She mentioned Skirack in Burlington and its commitment to ensuring children with disabilities don’t miss out. “It’s such a joy to see the kids go,” said Skirack salesman Tim Mathewson. “We help whenever we can. We find that kids with special needs don’t want to be treated differently. They want to do things all kids do.”

Kayla Kruk out skiing
Sara Kruk of Shelburne creates Kayla’s Directory in honor of her daughter. Courtesy photo

Kruk blogs about Kayla’s recent experience skating around the ice with members of the University of Vermont’s women’s hockey team. While the instability of her legs don’t lend to donning skates and doing laps around an ice rink, some quick thinking on the part of one of the Catamount athletes got Kayla out onto the ice. Sitting proudly on top of a few black milk crates, Kayla flew around the ice. “She was out on the ice for 15 minutes and had a blast,” Kruk said. “It’s the little things like this that make a difference. Kayla still talks about going on the ice and how much fun she had.”

Kayla is far from a one-sport participant. In addition to her love for hockey, she also started to hit the slopes again as part of the Vermont Adaptive Sports and Ski program; she loves STAR Basketball at EDGE Sports and Fitness and it’s common to see her taking cooking lessons at Healthy Living in South Burlington. She also is part of Team Impact, a program whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing life- threatening and chronic illnesses. At a January event honoring UVM hockey great Martin St. Louis, Kruk and Kayla met another young Shelburne Team Impact member.

“I’m a big believer in getting kids out into the community,” she said. “I like helping kids.”

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