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The Issaquah Press
Issaquah, Washington
August 12, 2009     The Issaquah Press
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August 12, 2009

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THE ISSAQUAH PRESS t SECTION B COMMUNITY WEDNESDAY~ AUGUST 12~ 2009 I I I City rolls out the red carpet for National Night Out festivities A volunteer shows off her National Night Out tattoo. Issaquah Police Explorers (from lelt) Nikki Buzzell, Erin Hill and Alex Anderson, man a station during National Night Out, an event where community members got together to better know their law enforcement officials. Issaquah Traffic Officers Andrew Rohrback and John 'Spoodtrep' Undner (behind), cook up some compli- mentary hot dogs at the National Night Out event. Above, School Resource Officer Kadn Welhe holds up a Neff Dart Tag set donated by Target to be raffled off at National Night Out. At left, Zack Runner and his son Cody wait in line to grab a hot dog made by the city's finest during National Night Out on the steps of City Hall. PHOTOS" BY ADAM ESCHBACH BY CHANTELIJE LUSEBI~INK Hannah Gonzales, 3, of Issaquah, walks through a balloon arch at the Kindering Center graduation in Bellevue. The event helped her celebrate her accomplishments there, including being able to walk with the use of her walk- er. Special-needs students graduate one step closer to independence BY CHANTELLE LUSEBRINK W[ ith heads held high, more r than 370 graduates un- easily stepped forward and made their way through a colorful balloon arch at Bellevue's Crossroads Park Aug. 6. Standing at little more than three feet and no older than 3, Kindering Center graduates of the class of 2009 took their first steps toward a new future. The day marked more than just the start of new adven- tures, but reminded their parents of how far they'd come. "We are very proud of Hannah," her mother Melissa Gonzales said during the ceremony, referring to her daughter. She works so hard." Born with a congenital brain condition, Hannah's future was anything but clear. However, at eight months old, Hannah s doctor referred Melissa and her husband, Dominic Gonzales, to Kindering Center for early intervention. "I was impressed by their serv- ices and felt Hannah needed to be here, it's definitely worth the drive" from Issaquah to Bellevue, Melissa Gonzales said. Established in 1962, Kindering Center is a nonprofit neurodevelop- mental center for special-needs chil- dren and their families. It is the only center of its kind on the Eastside and one of the largest in the nation, said Joe Cunningham, senior devel- opment officer for the center. The center includes services for children who are disabled, med- ically fragile or have suffered from abuse or neglect. Hannah "is an amazing kid. She has this great sparkle in her eyes and connects with people. She also has this sense of determination that she is going to accomplish something." - Wendy Harris g/nder/ag Center bls/ru~or But the program is more than just a school, said Mimi Siegel, the center's executive director. It is a full-service center for the support of special-needs children and their families. "We offer an umbrella of serv- ices, like speech services, physical therapy and special education pro- gramming," Siegel said, referring to classroom programs. For families like the Gonzaleses, who had no idea whether their child might walk, they watched their daughter walk through the balloon arch with her walker after a few short years in the center's preschool. "At eight months, when we started, she could barely move," Melissa Gonzales said. "Now she can walk with her walker. She still doesn't have speech, but she really does understand what is going on around her, and really under- stands what is going on in her preschool class." See KINDERIN6, Page B3 Moroccan exchange students get firsthand look at America BY ERIN KIM On their first visit to America, students Meryem Riane, 19, and Loubna Gourari, 18, traveled to Issaquah from its Moroccan sister city, Chefchaouen. Long before the students made a two-week trip to Issaquah, Is- saquah residents and officials took steps to cement the relationship between the city and Chefchaouen. In 2006, 12-year-old Iman Belali wanted to create a better under- standing between America and Morocco, her home country. Iman convinced her parents to start the nonprofit organization, the Ameri- can Moroccan International Ex- change program. Issaquah residents then traveled to Morocco through AMIE. After the trip's success, the City Council established a sister-city re- lationship with Chefchaouen as an outgrowth of Iman's request. Another symbol of the sister city relationship is the towering Blue Door next to City Hall. The door was a gift from the city of Chefchaouen. The exchange program is a key part of the sister city relationship. Riane said her favorite parts of the trip were seeing the Space Needle, taking a yacht tour, being with her host family and simply bering in America. Before I came, I knew that Amer- ica is a developed country," she said. "I can't believe I'm in America and I want to show all my fi'iends." She said she was glad to learn about America. "I didn't dream to be in Amer- ica," she said. "Everybody should visit the United States." The summer program includes a four-day group forest retreat and a tour of Olympia. "I like everything," Gourari said, "It was a surprise to see this other life." She said the culture, including the food, faces, and even hair, was different. In addition to having fun, the students also agreed that staying in America improved their English and knowledge of American lifestyle. The students stayed with host families during their stay. Most of the host families are Issaquah res- idents. Some of their daughters travelled to Morocco through the AMIE program last year. "I feel like I'm with my parents and sister; they love me as I love them" Riane said, "[Being with my host family] is such an amazing experience to learn about the American values and habits." Meryem Rlane (left) and Loubna Gourad visit the Blue Door at City Hall. The door was donated by their hometown, Issaquah's sister city, Chefchaouen, Morocco.The girls visited as part of an exchange pro- [pam. BY ERIN KIM I I I