Reciprocal Learning Community

The Reciprocal Learning Community (RLC) is a network of families, educators and health professionals who come together to help parents of children with disabilities become informed, empowered experts on their children’s development and wellness. The program was developed in 2003 in response to drastic cuts in Early Intervention services as a way to help parents educate themselves to become strong advocates for their children.

Parents, with the assistance of an advisory board of professionals, choose the topics and plan each session. All of our sessions are research-based and utilize current best practices. Each session features Spanish translation. Concurrent childcare sessions, run by qualified professionals with the help of volunteers, provide activities for our children that are relevant to that session’s content. Each RLC concludes with a catered lunch and time to build community with presenters and other families and professionals. The sessions, which take place on a Saturday morning several times a year, are provided free of charge.

The sessions are interactive, and parents ask questions, provide feedback and get involved. Many sessions feature “expert panels”, made up of parents and professional, to field questions from participants. There is a growing recognition of the importance of parents and professionals working together to help children with disabilities. Learning happens continuously in the home and community, and is not limited to the sessions with trained therapists and health personnel. Insurance does not cover many of the services families need, and early intervention provides as few as 2 hours a month for some children. The RLC fills a vital need for our families, and its impact is recorded in the overwhelmingly positive evaluation forms that we receive at the end of every session.

Find upcoming RLC Workshops on the Event Calendar

Open Arms Play Groups (birth – 5)

Play group for children age birth through five with disabilities and their families that give parents the opportunity to connect and learn from each other on a personal level by asking questions, sharing ideas, and learning from others’ experiences. Open Arms is a fun place where children can play, snack, learn and grow together. Open Arms’ organizing principle is that parents are the experts on and number one advocates for their children. There is no charge, and we welcome all families with kiddos with disabilities and Down syndrome, age 0 to 5. Siblings are welcome.

Portland Open Arms Play Group
Second Tuesday of each month · 10:00 AM – Noon
Earl Boyles Elementary School
10822 SE Bush St, Portland, OR 97266
[map/driving directions]

Vancouver Open Arms Play Group
First Saturday of each month · 2:30 – 4:30 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver
4505 E 18th St, Vancouver, WA 98661
[map/driving directions]

Club Upside (all ages)

Club Upside Open Gym is a place where parents can share and children can play. All ages and abilities welcome. This is an all ages event where adults can share day to day life, challenges and triumphs; children can play and develop life long friendships; and siblings can share their feelings and know they are not alone on this journey. Play equipment and baby toys are included, snacks are provided and there is no cost to families.

Club Upside Vancouver is a partnership between the Northwest Down Syndrome Association and Clark County Parent to Parent of SW Washington.

Club Upside Vancouver
Second Saturday of every month · 2:00 – 4:00 PM
St. Andrew Lutheran Church · 5607 NE Gher Rd., Vancouver, WA 98662
[map/driving directions]