Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Orange County Cerebral Palsy Association, d.b.a. Inspire.
I can’t believe today is the first day of Sunshine Kids! It seems like it was just yesterday that we were planning and discussing our summer program. We made lists of contacts, activities and began interviewing staff. We were dreaming of the sunshine and hot days ahead.
Today is day one and we are off and running.
To say we’re excited is an understatement! I know how important this program is for the children we work with and their families. When traditional students are out on summer break there are ample choices of camps and programs that parents can choose for their kids. For children with special challenges, the choices are limited. Sure they have summer school, but that is only 6 weeks. The breaks at the beginning and the end of the summer can be downright torture for these kids, as they need routine, schedules and support. I feel fortunate that at Inspire we offer a small solution.
Sunshine Kids is our solution: we host a day program the off weeks of regular school and summer school for children who need that extra attention and for families who need that extra support.
We gathered all of our supplies, checked and double checked the paper work, and staff met early to set up and review the activities for the day.
At 8:45am we were ready and nervous. Nervous? Yes nervous! Some of the kids coming have been here before and others have not. Some we know all their likes and dislikes, allergies and funny quirks. The new ones don’t know us either. We wonder: will they be scared? Will they want to do all the fun things we have planned? We have sensory stations, water stations, yoga and of course a really cool playground for them to play on. Luckily our staff is trained and prepared to work with all abilities.
Once the kids started coming in we relaxed a little and just started to play. Its days like this that I wish I could be out there rolling in the grass and sliding down the slides with them all day! They were happy to be free from school and felt safe with the staff to explore the new surroundings. I am excited to see how the next week goes and if they will bond with staff and make friends. We have special guests coming too! The Fire Department, Macaroni the Clown and the Orange County Sheriffs’ K-9 Unit will each come out and meet our kids.
It may just be one week for each age group, but it’s one extra week that the family gets support and the child has the opportunity to meet new friends and work on skills.
Written by: Jill Rothschild, Habilitation/Recreation Manager at Inspire
About Sunshine Kids: Safe, age and disability appropriate outdoor activities will be provided and supervised by experienced, caring staff. Certified First Aid and CPR staff onsite. All sessions will be held at the Picnic Grove Area of Thomas Bull Memorial Park. Picnic Grove is home to Sally’s Dream Playground, a pavilion, a ball field and a bathroom. Children may be transported to other areas of the park to take part in various activities that are available. A fun-filled schedule of activities will ensure that all participants will have a good time. All activity equipment and supplies will be provided.
Read more about Sunshine Kids and how to enroll your child here