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Could you imagine being 150 miles away from home and in an intensive feeding program that requires your child to go through intense therapy for seven hours a day? The Aarhus family from Starkville, MS, made this journey with their adorable daughter Molly Kate for 8 weeks.

As one of only a few intensive feeding programs in the United States, and the first and only program of its kind in Alabama, the Children’s of Alabama Intensive Feeding Program is for children like Molly Kate who have physical or behavioral problems that make it hard to eat solid foods or swallow. The goal is to teach them to eat and drink as independently as possible and turn mealtime from a struggle into a positive experience.

As you can imagine during these weeks the children can get burned out since they are away from all the fun activities and friends at home. But thankfully Children’s Harbor Family Center is right around the corner, only an elevator ride and walk across the skywalk. To boost Molly Kate’s spirit, Amy Aarhus would come to the Family Center as often as she could in between feeding sessions as well as in the morning before sessions. She especially loved the normalcy the Family Center’s library brought. They would read books from the Peppa Pig and Berenstain Bears series together, color, play board games, and do arts and crafts. “Sometimes I would even borrow some of the books to use as incentives for Molly Kate to get through a hard session. It was so nice having these available,” said Amy. When father Craig Aarhus and big brother Jack would come to visit they loved attending some of the special events like Snacks and Strokes painting class as well as playing the arcade-style games in the Game Room. “It gave us a place to reconnect as a family that was not like a clinical environment, but still just a two minute walk from the COA Intensive Feeding clinic on sixth floor. Also, Molly Kate’s grandmother visited often so it was nice to have somewhere else besides the waiting area to relax and play together,” said Amy.

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