Spotlight On: The Criss Family

Spotlight On: The Criss Family

We are so fortunate to have so many amazing families in the DSC. We interviewed Courtney Criss, DSC parent and instructor for the Ready, Set, Kindergarten Program, to learn how the DSC has impacted her family.


Tell us how the DSC has impacted your family.

We have been involved with the DSC since I became a Board Member in Spring 2015.  My son with Ds was 18 months.  I served on the Board until the spring of 2018.  I currently still serve as a leader for the 0-3 Friends Group and an instructor in the Ready, Set, Kindergarten Program.

What DSC programs is your family involved in?

The DSC has provided multiple opportunities for me individually to make friends with other moms, my son with Ds to make friends with other kids with Ds, and my daughters to make friends with other siblings.  I have also been able to get to know adults with Ds and celebrate their achievements and appreciate their talents.  In addition to making friends, I have attended DSC workshops and seminars to learn about special education, medical information, and financial planning.  And when my second child with Ds was born and subsequently hospitalized, the DSC welcomed her and provided support for our family.

Tell us about your favorite DSC event.

My favorite DSC event is the Talent Show/Spring Fling.  I love seeing the talent of our friends with Ds and dancing with them afterwards.

Tell us about your October Fun Run Fundraiser for the DSC.

Another favorite DSC activity of ours is the Puget Sound Buddy Walk.  Of course we were disappointed that the Walk at the Zoo was canceled but we had so much fun walking around our neighborhood participating virtually.  The Buddy Walk is a huge fundraiser for the DSC but honestly, it is hard for me to ask people for money, even to donate to my favorite non-profit, the DSC.  In late September, a mom friend in another part of the country challenged herself to run 3.21 miles daily in the month of October.  At that point, I was not able to run that far but I wanted to.  I decided to challenge myself to run daily and ultimately be able to run 3.21 miles by the end of October.   The next day, as I was running, I had the idea to do a “fun run” fundraiser for the DSC.   I asked my friends and family to pledge a monetary amount to the DSC per mile that I would run in October.  By the end of October, I ran 3.21 miles two times and ran a total of 38 miles.  I raised over $250 for the DSC.

What does inclusion mean to you?

When I was growing up, children with disabilities were educated in a separate classroom.  I am ashamed to admit that I only had limited, uncomfortable interactions with them.  Today I advocate for my children to be included in every part of daily life so the next generation will be raised side by side with children with and without disabilities.  My children with Ds have a right to be in the same public-school class as same-aged children without disabilities.  They also have a right to be in the same church class, same playground, same swimming lesson, and same neighborhood.  My goals for my children are for them to have trusted friends, strong skills, varied education, and fulfilling employment.

Interested in being interviewed for our Spotlight On Series?

Email DSC Program Manager at [email protected].