By Alison Stanton

At Teen Strong, we want to let everybody know about organizations in Arizona that are making a difference in the lives of teenagers. This month, we are pleased to highlight Sun is Shining (SiS) and the important work that they do.  Here is our interview with Tanya Kelino, Chief Executive Officer.

Q: What types of services are offered at Sun is Shining (SiS)?

A: SiS offers Independent Living and Employment Skills training for teens to young adults (ages 13 and up), both with and without many different diagnoses. Our unique style of providing services are done within the client’s home, at our SiS office, and most importantly out in the community. We offer our services both one on one and in group settings, which ensures that our clients are receiving the best directions to reach their goals. All of our staff are certified Behavioral Health Technicians (BHTs) that offer support, mentoring, and guidance on being an active and successful member of society. We aid families with continuing support and re-instill life skill lessons most are already teaching. As a parent, I can vouch for how some kiddos don’t listen to Mom or Dad, but as soon as someone else says it, it’s like a light bulb goes off. This is exactly why I wanted SiS to provide our clients, and support their parents, with a sense of good values, good work ethics, and the power of achieving goals.

Q: About how long ago was Sun is Shining (SiS) launched?

A: SiS was formed in the early part of 2019.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the creation and launch of SiS?

A: Having a son with autism who was 9 going on 10 (he is now 11) and so eager to help others, I started looking for programs to help him gain living/social skills with his peers. To my surprise, there wasn’t much out there. The very small amounts of groups I could find were either booked or during the times I had to work. This not only made me sad, it made me frustrated that there wasn’t much out there to offer kids on the spectrum. I have also worked in the behavioral health field for about a decade, and many parents would come to me with such concerns for their newly adult kiddos with many different diagnoses, wondering what was in store for them. For instance, how would they live on their own, and what would happen to them if the parents were no longer able to care for them? All of this really tore at my heart and I knew something needed to be done. Hence the start of SiS.

Q: Just to confirm, are the services for teens throughout Maricopa County?

A: Yes, this is correct. We are currently serving clients all through Maricopa and hoping to move into Pinal county soon too.

Q: Have you found that there is a definite need for the services that are offered at SiS?

A: Yes, there are not many programs out there that provide exactly what we do. We make sure all of our services are 100% individualized to our clients’ needs, goals, and desired outcomes. As a small company, I made sure our services are provided by employees who truly care and who show the initiative to make others successful. We all put 100% into all our services and into our clients, as we are not successful unless they are.

Q: What would you like teenage girls with special needs/challenges and their families to know, including how SiS may be able to help?

A: I would like to tell them they aren’t alone. I once was a teenage girl; I lost both my parents at the age of 16 and had to fend for myself. I learned all about finding resources that can help me (prior to Google!), which made me the person I am today. SiS, just like Teen Strong, is here to help teenagers find the connections they might not know about, the abilities they might not know they have, and the strength to keep on going. I want them to know that SiS is here to listen to them, help them and show them how to be the best they can be.