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WATERLOO, Iowa --- Balloon animals, face painting and a magic show were on tap for children with disabilities while their parents learned about assistance available to them.

"It's been fun, it's been educational," said Craig Conger of Waterloo, who attended the Up With Families weekend with his wife, Virginia.

Their 6-year-old son suffers from seizures and has no control over his body, so constant supervision is a must.

"When he's awake, one of us has to be awake," Craig Conger said.

So on Saturday, volunteers looked after the son while the Congers took in seminars and a dinner at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center and Ramada Inn.

The event gave Doug and Stephanie Peters' daughter a chance to work on her social skills with other children. The 7-year-old was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, which is marked with delays in socialization and communication.

It was also a way for the couple to learn about services and support networks.

"They've been talking to us about parents in the same spot and what they've gone through," Stephanie Peters said.

Some 150 volunteers from organizations like Camp Adventure at the University of Northern Iowa and UNI's Nonprofit Leadership Alliance assisted with the weekend.

"Without the volunteers it doesn't work," said Bret Eick, who has been organizing the event with his wife, Ronda Eick, since 2003.

This weekend's session marks the 20th year for Up With Families, said Ronda Eick. It helps families who have children who were recently diagnosed with chronic illness or disease.

Ronda said that can be anything from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to cerebral palsy.

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