Springtime is when many parents are realizing that soon their children will not be in school all day and other activities will have to stimulate and engage them for the three months of summer. I have two young children (with no “labeled” disabilities) and it has been a priority for me this month. Numerous flyers have come home from school – everything from soccer to music to science. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading and researching about the different programs and organizations trying to find the best fit for my kids – and me! But, what about parents with kids with disabilities? They have to consider things like behavior challenges, accommodations and medications. They have to worry about the attitudes and barriers that might stand in the way of their child participating in summer activities. They are nagged by the possibility of getting their child in a program only to have staff call a couple hours later and ask them to come pick up their child because he’s just not “fitting in” with the other kids and he’s being disruptive.
I am fortunate enough to have a job where my responsibility is to create successful summer experiences for children with disabilities and their parents. As part of the Community Participation Initiative, we develop training for organizations that want to include children with disabilities into their programming that is open to all individuals.
Our training for program staff is designed to help them provide a welcoming and supportive environment for all kids. Staff learn about supporting positive behavior, accommodations for various activities, respecting and appreciating diversity, and how to use The Arcadia Institute for additional support during the summer.
Some of the organizations that are receiving training from The Arcadia Institute this summer are: Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Pretty Lake Vacation Camp Sherman Lake Camp Southwest Michigan Council of Boy Scouts The Nature Center The Civic Theater YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo
Contact The Arcadia Institute if you are an organization and you want to learn more about training.
We are also available to parents of children with disabilities to assist with finding the right fit for a fun, engaging and successful summer experience! And, parents, get your kids signed up soon before programs fill up!