This is a good time to look at some recreational activities that are available for children with special needs on Long Island. There is a wide range of activities. We are fortunate to have many organizations in our communities that run recreational programs for children with special needs. Even though this list is long, I know it is not complete. If you have information about these or other organizations and activities, please add a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long Island Parent Magazine prints an excellent annual special needs resource guide with an online version: http://liparentonline.com/special_needs_resource_guide.html.
Nassau County has programs available for disabled persons: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/Parks/leisure.html.
Suffolk County also provides recreational opportunities: Camp PaQuatuck weekend respite: http://suffolkcountyny.gov/Portals/0/countyexecutive/People%20with%20Disabilites/Bulletin%2012-11%20HandSerCampPaQuatuck.pdf.
Some towns and cities provide recreational opportunities for differently abled children. The Town of Hempstead offers the Anchor program for children with disabilities: http://toh.li/anchor.
The Town of Oyster Bay provides the GAP program through the Handicapped Services Division: http://oysterbaytown.com/vertical/Sites/%7B7D6BDBFB-65E8-4A80-B369-DE0267DC78CB%7D/uploads/Gap1-2012.pdf.
For other towns, consult their website for more information. You may need to make a few phone calls. Not every town or city has as many resources as Oyster Bay or Hempstead. Here is a list of Suffolk County Towns: http://suffolkcountyny.gov/Community/TownsandVillage.aspx.
Here is a list of Nassau County Towns: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/website/AG/Federal/townsaz.html.
If you are looking for a regularly scheduled inclusive group activity, with lots of variety, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts organizations do whatever is necessary to include children with disabilities in groups with typical children or special troops, if you prefer. My son Thomas, who has high functioning Down syndrome, has loved being a Cub Scout. He is in a regular den with boys who respect him and include him. It teaches him how to socialize with typical kids and the rest of the community. For the closest available pack or troop, here are links: Nassau County Girl Scouts http://www.gsnc.org ; Suffolk County Girl Scouts http://www.gssc.us; Suffolk County Boy and Cub Scouts: http://www.sccbsa.org; Nassau County Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts: http://www.trcbsa.org.
Many local sports organizations offer adapted activities for children with special needs. The Police Athletic League offers sports activities for children with special needs: Nassau County: http://ncpal.pointstreaksites.com/view/ncpal/units-directory/special-needs-unit and Suffolk County: http://scspecialpal.com.
Special Olympics offers programs at no cost to you. If your child an intellectual disability has a sport that he or she enjoys, contact Special Olympics.: http://nyso.org/ATHLETES/participate.php.
TOP Soccer offers a supportive environment for our children to learn and enjoy soccer. Thomas has enjoyed their program. : http://www.lijsoccer.com/Programs/TopSoccer.html.
Unlimited Sports Action in Port Washington has a program for children with autism: http://www.unlimitedsportsaction.com/special-needs.
K.I.D.S. Plus, Kids in Developmental Sports is an organization that offers sports and physical fitness activities for children with special needs: http://www.kidsplusinc.com/.
Surfers Way offers surfing classes for children with disabilities as a form of therapeutic recreation: http://surfersway.org/aboutus.html.
Others include Challenger Baseball:
The Miracle League of Long Island: http://www.mllongisland.com/faq.asp.
Horseback riding: HorseAbility http://horseability.org My son has gone to their summer camp and enjoyed it immensely. They have top notch staff, teachers,
therapists and volunteers.; Other equine therapy organizations that have been recommended to me: Pal-O-Mine Therapeutic Riding Program: http://www.pal-o-mine.org/therapeutic-riding; Long Island Riding for the Handicapped Association, Inc. http://www.lirha.com/aboutus.htm; and My Shine: http://myshineprogram.com/index.html.
The Hannah Kroner School of Dance has been highly recommended to me by one of my friends. Her son has Down syndrome and has enjoyed learning dance from the excellent teachers there. Their web site is: http://hannahkronerschoolofdance.com.
Many families have been pleased with programs offered by the Jewish Community Centers of Long Island. They accept children from every religion and warmly welcome children with special needs. They have comprehensive programs and services available. The spaces fill up fast so if you need one of their programs, now is the time to apply.
Barry and Florence Friedberg JCC, Oceanside and Long Beach: http://www.friedbergjcc.org/programs/specialneeds.php
JCC of the Greater Five Towns, Cedarhurst: http://www.fivetownsjcc.org/index_jccspecialneeds.htm
Mid Island YCC, Plainview:
Samuel Field Y: Bayside, Little Neck: http://www.sfy.org/special-needs/
Sid Jacobson JCC, East Hills: http://www.sjjcc.org/supportspecialservices/special-needs/
Suffolk YJCC, Commack: http://www.suffolkyjcc.org/html/butler.shtml
Besides the Jewish Community Centers, I found these resources:
Variety Child Learning Center: http://www.vclc.org/
UCPN, United Cerebral Palsy, Nassau County, not just for cerebral palsy: http://www.ucpn.org/
UCP Suffolk County: http://www.thechildrenscenter-ucp.org/
ACDS, The Association for Children with Down Syndrome helps all children with developmental disabilities. Thomas has enjoyed their weekend and vacation respites: http://acds.org/
For long weekends and vacations that will provide amazing educational and heartwarming family memories, visit a national park. We are blessed to have
many national parks within a few hours’ drive. Here is a national list of
accessible sites: http://www.nps.gov/pub_aff/access/opportunities.htm. Here is a link to New York State National Parks: http://www.nps.gov/state/ny/index.htm?program=all. The National Park Service offers a free access pass to any citizen with a permanent disability: http://store.usgs.gov/pass/access_pass_application.pdf.
Many local libraries have wonderful resources. The Plainview Old Bethpage Public Library has a Family Center with toys and even an Ipad lending program which allows your child to use their Ipad for an hour in the Family Center. They have DVD’s and video games to borrow, books to read, wi-fi and relaxing seats.
I take Thomas there many times a week so we both can relax an hour or two.
I honestly believe that most children, no matter what their disability, would benefit from getting out and experiencing some of the wonderful recreation that Long Island has to offer. A visit to one of our beautiful parks would do wonders for the whole family.