Stares from strangers, the possibility of bullying, and certainly carrying lots of necessary health gear may deter you from bringing your special child out into the public. However, I sincerely believe that overcoming our fears and reluctance is well worth it.
Our kids need to be seen and heard. They have just as much right and just as much to offer our community as any other child. The more of us out there, the fewer stares there will be. If we hide, then we are doing our children and our community a disservice. It takes courage. We can do it.
Perhaps you don’t know where to go to find accessible recreation for your child. I hope this article helps. If you know of resources I have not mentioned, do comment with the organization’s name, services offered, web site and phone number so the information is spread.
This blog post will be in two parts. The first part looks at summer programs. The next one looks at the rest of the year.
Since summer has already begun most camps are not accepting more campers for this year. It wouldn’t hurt to call a camp of interest to see if they are still accepting enrollments. Here are some helpful lists:
- the United Spinal Association (http://www.unitedspinal.org/pdf/Exercise_Ability_Ch_8.pdf),
- KidsCamps.com ( http://www.kidscamps.com/camps/new-york-specialneeds-camps.camp),
- Camp Page (http://www.camppage.com/special_needs_camps/special_needs_index.htm),
- Long Island Parent Magazine http://liparentonline.com/special_needs_camps.html),
- Very Special Camps (http://www.veryspecialcamps.com/New-York/Special-Needs-Summer-Camps.shtml),
- Long Island Press http://www.longislandpress.com/2010/04/29/children-crave-camp/),
- NY Metro Parents http://nymetroparents.com/listings/Camp-Day-Camp.
Here are some others to consider:
PAL, the Police Athletic League has programs throughout the Island. Nassau County PAL has this web site:
http://ncpal.pointstreaksites.com/view/ncpal/special-needs-unit. Suffolk County PAL has this web site: http://scspecialpal.com.
Nassau and Suffolk Counties both have accessible parks and recreation facilities available. Nassau County just opened a brand new fully accessible playground at Eisenhower Park: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/CountyExecutive/NewsRelease/2012/LetAllTheChildrenPlayAccessibleParkandPlayground.html.
Many community centers, gymnasiums, swimming, dance and sports centers offer classes for children with special needs.
There is the Mid Island YJCC’s KISS program (http://www.miyjcc.org/SpecialNeeds/Index.cfm. Not only do they offer a popular day camp, they also offer weekend and afternoon programs.
The Friedberg JCC offers programs (http://www.friedbergjcc.org/programs/specialneeds.php).
The Sid Jacobson JCC does too (http://www.sjjcc.org/supportspecialservices/special-needs/).
The YMCA of Long Island also has programs in place (http://www.ymcali.org/Association/Programs/Aquatics.aspx).
Pump It Up has monthly sessions for children with special needs (http://www.pumpitupparty.com/party-packages/-p34q153q4049.htm).
The Hannah Kroner School of Dance in Albertson offers dance classes for children with special needs (http://www.hannahkronerschoolofdance.com).
Unlimited Sports Action in Port Washington offers special needs classes as well (http://www.unlimitedsportsaction.com/special-needs/).
Family field trips to museums, zoos, parks, historical sites and nature centers are usually a fun thing to do when you have the time.
Don’t be shy. Go ahead and ask your nearby recreation facility what they offer. If the operator doesn’t know, ask for someone who does. My experience is that most people are glad to help. Most townships have special programs available. If your child doesn’t have a behavior problem, and is capable of handling an activity, they might be able to be included in typical classes. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you have a favorite summer activity that your child loves, please comment on this blog post with the name of the organization and contact information. Have a great summer!