Summer camp has started!
The summer recreation program is a busy time at CSS. We believe in community integration and that means
Even though many children are funded by the state or their parents are able to find resources, there are still a number of families that do not receive funding. At CSS we do have a fund to help support these families and it allows individuals, ages 5-20, the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of constructive, community-based social and recreational programs during extended school breaks.
Weekly activities regularly include playing at the park, Frisbee, soccer, bubbles, football, and playing on the playground equipment. On rainy days activities include art projects, sensory play, trampoline, air hockey, quiet games and puzzles in the classroom with peers. Summer is a great time to go swimming at the community swim center and a favorite is to hike along the trails at Sugarloaf Mountain or Great Falls Park.
However we cannot do any of these activities without donations like yours. There are so many children requiring the support of programs like ours, but because they parents are on a waiting list for funding they are often in inappropriate care settings. Every donation makes a difference in a child’s life this summer!
Parents need a viable care option during the week of Spring Break and that’s where Community Support Services steps in. We’re open all week and provide a host of fun activities for children in our camp program. Many children diagnosed with developmental disabilities are not accepted in other programs and cannot be left at home alone. Community Support Services gives parents an exciting alternative and the children have a great time!
An important aspect of our program is that we spend as much time as possible out in the community. Favorite activities include visiting the local parks such as hiking at Great Falls Park in Potomac, Maryland. Great Falls Park is an 800 acre park with a breathtakingly scenic trail along the Potomac River. Everyone had a great time and we couldn’t imagine a spring break without trips like this.
Physical activity is an important part of any healthy lifestyle but often individuals with autism do not have the opportunities that many of us take for granted. It has been shown that participating in physical activities has many benefits for those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It can reduce incidences of behavior, increase awareness of appropriate responses, and promotes social interaction. Unfortunately, many agencies and nonprofits do not engage in physical activity or community involvement because of the challenges involved.
We are very fortunate that our region is host to a number of free opportunities, like the one at Great Falls Park. But, there are still a number of treasured activities that do cost money such as swimming and miniature golf. Even traveling to a free activity does cost in transportation, either in gasoline or metro fare. When a child is funded for camp and care, that funding does not include fees for classes such as yoga or dance. Here at Community Support Services we strive to provide every child with a full and active schedule built around their interests but we need your help to do so.
As you plan your summer activities, the youth and adults we support face unique challenges in making their summertime wishes a reality. Please remember these children, and help if you can. With your contributions, we can create a safety net for new children as they are identified, and support them until state funding is made available.
Whatever your summer plans may be, we wish you the very best for a safe, fun, and enjoyable season.
A new dance instructor started at CSS this month. Jackie Zamora teaches ZamDance leading groups in energetic activity. Although on the surface ZamDance shares many similarities with Zumba, the class is organic a group’s composite interest and the dance moves match the abilities of those in each class. ZamDance introduces a structured environment while allowing participants to move at their own pace. Everyone loves the music and the new dance movements. There is a smile on every face as dancers move to the music, clapping and stepping together. Some children assist the instructor by standing in front to lead the dancing. At the end everyone takes a few turns to learn the limbo. Everyone enjoys this activity that combines exercise with fun and they look forward to the next class.
With the new year it means it’s also time for us to start planning our summer camp. Summer camp for one child costs six thousand dollars, and usually that’s money that the parents do not have forcing them look for other options not as suited for engaging children with autism and developmental disabilities. Additionally, that money does not cover pool memberships, art supplies, snacks, or trips into the community. Scholarships are extremely competitive and do not fully cover the specialized services needed by children in our programs. CSS wants to be able to continue to provide services to children that do not receive support from the state but we cannot do it without your help. Every dollar makes a difference and will help us reach our goals. We want to make sure every child has the opportunity to have a fun summer, help today! If you cannot help financially, please share our story with a friend, post about us Facebook or tweet about our project. Together we can all make a difference and give kids the summer experience they deserve.
Back to school means back to camp! With the school year beginning in August comes the return of yellow school buses pulling up to CSS in the afternoons. Kids getting off the bus are all smiles not realizing that they are going to be learning valuable skills for the next few hours.
One of the many therapy activities in the CSS After-School Camp is art. Art Therapy gives participants the opportunity to engage in different creative outlets. Communication is often a struggle for children diagnosed with autism and art provides an alternative to traditional speech. Art is a window for the imagination and gives individuals visual tools for expression. Therapy groups are clearly structured with themes and art materials, but allow the artists to freely express themselves within the given frameworks while ensuring each child has his or her individual needs met .
Even the most affordable art supplies do come at a cost and it can really add up over the course of the school year. Fifty dollars can provide one week of art supplies for the camp. Over fifty children attend the after-school program at CSS. Each day the program ensures that every child has the chance to engage in activities and therapies designed for him or her. The difference art makes in a person’s life is evident in the smiles as children proudly show off their masterpieces at the end of the day.
Camp has been full of nonstop activity this summer! Coordinating more than forty children on a daily basis is an impressive task, but the Children's Services team is always up to the challenge.
On a typical day the camp gathers in the CSS gymnasium. Students attending the Extended School Year program are dropped off by school buses and staff will meet campers at the curb to help everyone get off the bus safely. Camp staff keep the individuals arriving early busy on the playground and in the gym. By not idling, campers do not even realize they're waiting for others to check in and for their group to get organized. The individuals are split up into closely supervised groups that rotate activities throughout the week. Efforts are made to keep groups small, so no one feels crowded and each child is given the attention they need and deserve.
The camp schedule varies depending on school schedules, and the Children’s Services team works closely with each individual to accommodate any special planning needs. Children from more than 15 different schools attend the camp throughout the summer, and the schedules must be coordinated to accommodate everyone.
Summer camp is a mix of play and structured activities. On any given day campers might do one of more than a dozen planned pursuits such as hiking, swimming, miniature golf, or classes at the CSS resource center such as art, dance or drumming. These are mixed in with special community outings like boat trips at Lake Needwood or a visit to Brookside Gardens. The children are highly engaged in age appropriate activities to suit individual interests.
When camp concludes for the day everyone goes home in a good mood, ready to relax after an afternoon of fun!
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