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PEAK Parent Center was founded in 1986 by Barbara Buswell and Judy Martz and began as a grassroots efforts by two mothers who both had young children with disabilities. When Barbara’s second child was born in 1979, he was deprived of oxygen and, at three months old, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Immediately, Barbara and her husband set about trying to learn all they could to support their child. They looked everywhere for information. Books in public libraries were out of date, support groups were non-existent, and even physicians’ information varied from doctor to doctor. Barbara Buswell says, "Before this, we rarely saw ourselves as incompetent people, but it was almost impossible to figure out how to navigate the systems, whether they be educational, medical, social, or financial. We wanted to find out how to help our son and we were coming up empty."
While Barbara and her husband found few answers, they did find other families - lots of them - asking similar questions. When they found information, they shared it. Barbara realized that the information they were learning could help other families, so they started a parent support group in Colorado Springs, Colorado for any family who had a child with a disability. They met many people, including PEAK’s co-founder Judy Martz. They asked more questions, they shared more information, and eventually they learned about a grant available through the U.S. Department of Education that could provide money to support their fledgling group. In 1986, PEAK Parent Center was awarded the grant to serve as the Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) for the State of Colorado.
Today, PEAK Parent Center still serves as Colorado’s federally-designated Parent Training and Information Center! And, across the past few decades, PEAK has expanded its outreach, and now serves also as the federally-designated Parent Technical Assistance Center for Region 5 of the National Parent Center Network, as well as the Rehabilitation Services Administration Center for Colorado and Arizona. Helping families get information so they can make informed decisions regarding their children is PEAK’s primary focus. PEAK supports thousands of Colorado families each year through its projects and services. Discovering that a child has a disability often feels overwhelming and isolating for parents. PEAK empowers families, educating them about specific disabilities, available resources, laws that protect their children's rights, and tools they need to become lifelong advocates for their children and themselves.
Since its beginning, PEAK has been a parent directed and staffed organization. The majority of both PEAK’s Board of Directors and employees are parents or family members of individuals with disabilities who come from a variety of backgrounds. Today, as one of the most well established federally designated Parent Training and Information centers in the nation, PEAK has a vast network of collaborative partners at the national, state and local levels. Whether addressing issues in early childhood or assisting youth in making the transition from high school to an independent adult life, PEAK Parent Center’s staff share their experiences and knowledge with others so that children with disabilities in Colorado and beyond, can be successful.
Since its founding in 1986, PEAK has become a beacon of hope for families of children with disabilities. PEAK’s motto is: “Helping Families, Helping Children” and reflects PEAK’s commitment to support ALL families from ALL diverse backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. By living this motto every day, we help change lives for the better.
The mission of PEAK Parent Center is to provide training, information and technical assistance to equip families of children birth through twenty-six including all disability conditions with strategies to advocate successfully for their children.
As a result of PEAK's services to families and professionals, children and adults with disabilities will live rich, active lives participating as full members of their schools and communities.