2015 Playhouse Projects
Descriptions by: Stacy Smith Rogers
Noah and Gabriel Renner
Most boys around the age of seven or eight have a revolving door of answers to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?,” but for Noah Renner, the answer is always the same. “I want to be a priest.” Anyone who knows him realizes that this little boy isn’t joking. Noah has been diagnosed with level one cerebral palsy, global developmental delays, microcephaly and a myriad of other physical challenges, including severe sensory integration disorder. While his speech is very limited (he has severe speech apraxia and dysarthria), he can communicate. That’s evident when he is “celebrating” Mass. He has even recited the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” prayers in Latin as he reenacts the entire Catholic Mass before bedtime, using his stuffed animal dogs on his bed as parishioners.
Gabriel has a fascination for trains, so he’s looking forward to inviting everyone to hop aboard his new playhouse. Noah has taken a liking to eating blueberries and often refers to himself as “Father Noah the Blueberry Boy.” So it’s no wonder that when asked what he wanted his new playhouse to be like, he immediately described a church.
Pat Durham, Pat Durham Builder, has created quite a unique playhouse build, incorporating both the church and train station themes to satisfy both Noah’s and Gabriel’s requests. “The exterior looks like an old-time country church, with a kneeler, pew and stations of the cross inside. About three-fifths of it is the church, and just beyond is a wall where the train station is, including a large back porch where ‘passengers’ can walk up and buy tickets,” Pat explained. He worked directly with both a priest and a train company on the design.
Vance has Norrie disease, a rare genetic disorder which causes males to be totally blind at birth or become blind in both eyes at a young age. Studies show that most children with Norrie disease experience hearing impairment and up to half also have developmental delays, mental challenges or behavioral abnormalities.
Despite his challenges, Vance has a great sense of humor and likes to have fun and laugh. He enjoys going outside and playing with his siblings.
Inspiring Vance to become engaged is a huge goal for playhouse builder Billy Doelker, Key Homes, and his YouthBuild Louisville team. Doelker has hit a home run with Vance’s playhouse, which is designed in a baseball theme. He had a chance to meet with Vance early on and said that the little boy climbed up in his lap and stayed there for the duration of their meeting. Doelker commented on the project. “This is really reflective of who I am as a person and a Christian. I’ve seen how God can use us to give and serve in the community, and having the opportunity to help a family who has a child with a disability and work with YouthBuild was a good fit for me,” Doelker said.
2014 Playhouse Projects
Jenna Mohammed is a five year old girl that knows what she wants! When she first met with her builder, Jeremy Esposito, Esposito Construction, she was quick to explain exactly how she wanted her playhouse to look, including a request for a doorbell! Mohammed has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. She works hard to strengthen her legs, currently Jenna can walk and stand with assistance, but not alone. Her playhouse has been built with multiple levels to encourage strengthening through playtime. Registered Builder Jeremy Esposito, Esposito Construction built Jenna’s playhouse, which was designed by architect Beverly Baker and interior finishes are being provided by Amy Cimba, Bittners.
Hunter Ellis is an eight year old little boy who is described as being “pretty much happy all the time.” He was born with Down syndrome and his playhouse is being designed to not only satisfy him now, but to also give him place for independence as he grows older. Many textures and sensory-specific features have been incorporated into his playhouse to complement his therapy. Registered Builder Mark Simpson both designed and built Hunter’s playhouse. The interior design is being done by Judy Greathouse.
2013 Homearama Playhouses
The Building Industry Charitable Foundation have once again teamed up with YouthBuild Louisville and Kosair Charities to build two playhouses for Kosair Kids. Registered Builder and Remodelor Michael O’Dea and Registered Remodelor Mike Isaacs mentored YouthBuild Louisville students to build this year’s playhouses. The playhouses were generously sponsored by River City Bank. Here is some information about the well-deserving children receiving this year’s playhouses:
Caden Mills Bio
Caden was born in 2007 with Spina Bifida, a clubfoot and Hydrocephalus. At 13 months old, he needed a shunt replacement due to seizures. As a toddler, Caden needed several leg operations, one to restructure his clubfoot and another to help straighten his right leg to be able to walk in full braces. Now at 6 years old, Caden walks with reciprocal braces and uses a wheelchair. Recently, he underwent another surgery to remove a metal plate from his right leg that was placed there to help straighten it and had bilateral hip flexor releases. In addition, the Spina Bifida has affected his bladder and bowel functions making it necessary for him to be catheterized 5 times daily and requiring a cone enema.
A first grade student at Spencer County Elementary School in Taylorsville, KY, Caden is a very friendly and popular little boy who loves school and playing with other kids. Caden does not let his disabilities get in the way and jumps right into whatever activity is going on. For a recent talent show, Caden break-danced! He loves music, swimming, riding his 3-wheeler, and playing in his sandbox. Caden’s parents consider him a gift from God and feel very fortunate to be his mother and father.
Samuel Joseph Harris Bio
Samuel Joseph Harris began fighting for his life at only 6 hours old. Diagnosed with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN), he was immediately transferred to Kosair Children’s Hospital. Sam was placed on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) to stabilize his cardio-pulmonary functions, but it was discovered, on a routine head ultrasound, that Sam had developed Intraventricular Hemorrhages (IVH). Due to this, another diagnosis of Post Hemorrhagic Hydrocephalus (PHH) was added, increasing Sam’s stay in the NICU.
Due to the severity of Sam’s medical issues, he began therapies in the First Steps program, which included physical, occupational, speech, and nutritional therapy. In addition, he began meeting with a specialized developmental interventionalist through the Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) for his Cortical Visual Impairment, a neurological visual disorder. VIPS is a phenomenal service here in Louisville that offers services for infants through preschoolers that are visually impaired; Kosair Charities is a proud partner of VIPS. This past year, Sam has been receiving tremendous support at VIPS and has made ever-increasing progress. His teachers are extremely patient and loving. Because of their dedication and servitude, not only has Sam’s vision improved but also his sensory processing. This is due to the generosity of those at Kosair Charities; because of their kindness Sam will live a better life.
Photos from 2013 Playhouse Reveal on July 1st 2013:
2012 Homearama Playhouses
The Building Industry Charitable Foundation has partnered with Kosair Charities and YouthBuild Louisville to build two playhouses for well-deserving Kosair Kids. Each playhouse is being designed and custom built to suit the interests and physical needs of the child. The playhouses are a special way for the children to escape their everyday challenges in exchange for imaginary play and entertainment that inspires enlightens and strengthens their developing skills.
YouthBuild Louisville students will work with the Registered Builder mentors on both projects. This year’s Registered Builder mentors are Pat Durham, Pat Durham Builder, Inc. and Brandon Bailey, Bailey Construction. One playhouse will be on display at each of this year’s Homearama 2012 locations.
A Playhouse for Addie (2011)
Addie shares her parents’ love (and her playhouse) with younger brother Austin. When she was born, her parents were shocked to learn there were complications with her health. They were unaware of the challenges ahead. “We went into the hospital for her delivery thinking we would be taking her home just like any normal family after only a couple of days. We had no idea she would be there for seven weeks. It’s not exactly what you envision with your first child. It was a roller coaster of emotions,” she recalled. Addie’s diagnosis falls under the umbrella of cerebral palsy, however her medical challenges have perplexed doctors from the start. She was on a feeding tube for the first three years of her life. “When you leave the hospital with a special needs child, you’re pretty much on your own. You have to learn to network and ask a lot of questions and be willing to ask for and accept help from others,” she explained.
“Kosair has been a huge factor for us. Because of Kosair, we’ve been able to try new therapies that our insurance wouldn’t cover. And, when she outgrew her push stroller and needed something bigger, they stepped in to make that happen. They’ve been an outstanding resource for us and a great vehicle to raise awareness of what families with special needs go through,” Jill elaborated.
Jill said that Addie has already changed a lot of people’s lives and their family welcomes the opportunity to impact others. “Sometimes I look at other families with healthy little girls who are running and playing carefree, and I start to have my own pity party. But, then I look at Addie and realize that she’s happy being herself and if she can be happy, then so can I. She makes life happy, so I’ve decided I need to deal with it and go on. My new mantra is the saying, ‘Life is what you make it. Always has been. Always will be.’ If you dwell on the bad things, you’re going to miss out on the good things,” she said.
Jill speaks with an optimism and a sense of thankfulness. “The unknown is the hardest part. But, we’re lucky that Addie is ours and the fact we’ve been welcomed into the special needs community with so much love and friendship. We’ve developed so many close relationships because of Addie,” she added.