After a hard day’s work or when school is over and on the weekends many of us enjoy pursuing hobbies, playing sports, or attending other community leisure activities that we find enjoyable!
Most of us have the cognitive and physical ability to choose an activity that looks like fun or is interesting to us and we go for it!
Most of us also have the physical ability and freedom to get ourselves out into society to actually participate in our activities of choice!
But sadly, far too many people with special needs and disabilities do not have the luxury of getting themselves out into the community to participate in many of the enjoyable community activities that the rest of us just take for granted.
Finding community leisure activities for special needs individuals can sometimes prove to be quite a challenge!
Yet, everyone, including those with special needs and disabilities has the right to participate in travel, hobbies and fun community activities.
My daughter, Bethany, is now capable of choosing leisure activities to enjoy at home on her own, but because of the nature of her disabilities she’ll never be able to just be able to get herself out to an event or an activity in the community all by herself.
There are two things that will always be required for Bethany to be able to participate and fully enjoy community activities.
- The assistance and supervision of another responsible adult to ensure her safety.
- Special understanding and accommodations.
Because of Bethany’s unique special needs, most of the activities she participates in have been created and designed especially for kids like her who require similar accommodations.
Activities like those in Flash Club, the social and fitness club that she loves, are specifically designed for autistic children and young adults.
In fact, many children and adults with special needs do require a bit more structure, supervision, assistance and accommodation in order for leisure time activities to truly be enjoyable experiences.
However, we also believe that individuals with disabilities should not be segregated away from society and their typical peers.
We regularly take Bethany out into the community to shop, visit the library, go to the park, and attend festivals, fairs and other fun destinations.
We firmly believe that it’s a basic right of our loved ones with disabilities to live, work and play alongside their typical peers in the communities in which they live.
But many children and adults with special needs do require a bit more structure, supervision, assistance and accommodation in order for leisure time activities to truly be enjoyable experiences.
Below is a list of agencies and leisure time activity programs established and designed especially for children and adults who have disabilities.
- Disabled Sports USA -Providing adaptive sports opportunities for people with disabilities to develop independence, confidence and fitness through sports
- Miracle League– Provide opportunities for children with disabilities to play Miracle League baseball, regardless of their abilities.
- Surfer’s Way– is a non-profit organization designed to offer children with special needs the opportunity to experience the exhilaration and liberation of surfing.
- Special Needs Camps– a specialized directory dedicated exclusively to camps which serve individuals with one or more of a wide range of special needs
- Camps for children who have epilepsy
- Wellness Gifts– offers camping retreats to families who have a family member with developmental disabilities, living at home with their parents or caregivers. Respite, Recreation, and Rejuvenation are the three ‘R’s we strive to achieve. (We have attended Wellness Gifts Retreats many times and greatly enjoyed the activities and programs offered)
- Joni and Friends Family Retreats– special needs families receive encouragement and care in the comfort of a safe and accessible family camp environment.
- Flying Wheels Travel– The first and most experienced travel agency for people with physical disabilities, chronic illness or difficulty walking.
- World on Wheels– Accessible Travel Resource for Wheelchair Users and People with Mobility Disabilities.
- Hammer Travel– Offers a variety of travel opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. Travel provides unique and enjoyable experiences for everyone, it is our goal to meet the needs of each of our travelers to make your dreams come true! Our experienced team members work with you in all aspects of the travel process; ensuring a safe, fun and memorable trip.
- Sensory Friendly Films– AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to bring you unique movie showings where you can feel free to be you! We turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing!
- Boston Children’s Museum provides programs, exhibits, and spaces that are accessible to all visitors. Our staff members continuously receive training on Accessibility and Inclusion to better assist visitors and are always happy to answer questions or provide assistance.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art– Offers workshops and other programs that welcome children and adults with a range of abilities and learning styles together with family and friends.
- Easter Seals– is the largest provider of recreation and camping services for people with disabilities in the country.
- And don’t forget to check out your local YMCA, ARC, UCP, Autism and other disability organizations, and government agencies to see what’s available in right your very own community.