With summer in New England comes bountiful sunshine, opportunities for outdoor fun and, of course, children out of school for summer vacation. For many, summer means local camps where kids can explore their world and create new memories. But for families of special needs children, finding an affordable and appropriate camp experience can be a trying ordeal. Seeking to meet this need, the Cheshire Parks and Recreation Department began offering Therapeutic Recreation (TR) Summer Camps in 2010 for children with physical, cognitive, emotional or social limitations.
With grant support from Connecticut Community Foundation, TR Camp captures the best of a traditional camp experience but does so in a way that is welcoming and specifically geared toward campers with special needs. “Our program offers an excellent opportunity for the campers to practice the socialization skills that they are learning at school. Naturally, we offer swimming, crafts and athletic activities, but our specialized staff also introduce new activities – such as karate and yoga, while focusing more on life skills, like how to use their voice to order an ice cream,” comments Barbara Costello, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.
Grants from CCF have enabled the Park & Recreation Department to further develop the TR Camp program and make it available to more kids. In particular, CCF grants have helped the Recreation Department hire specialized staff, such as speech therapists and occupational therapists, and incorporate special guests to share new skills. “Keeping the costs of camp reasonable for families is challenging due to the higher level or expertise of staff needed. But with the Foundation’s support, we are proud to be able to keep our rates in line with traditional camp programs,” adds Costello.
Helping kids with special needs have a fun, traditional summer camp experience created just for them – Timeless Impact.