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Summer Fun for Children with Disabilities
By Mary Castro Summers
Family TIES of Massachusetts

Summertime is fast approaching, and parents are searching for summer programs and funding assistance for their children with special needs. In light of this difficult economic climate, many sources for summer camp funds are not available this year. Here are some ideas that may help:

1. Does your child qualify for Extended School Year (ESY), which could translate into school-coordinated summer activities? Call the Parent Training & Information Center (PTI) at 1-800-331-0688 or visit http://www.doe.mass.edu/pqa/ta/esyp_qa.html to learn more about ESY services.

2. Many community-based programs like your town recreation department, nearby YMCA camps, and those run by communities of faith offer weeklong programs that may be able to accommodate your child’s special needs.

3. Many non-profit organizations run special programs, including some family camps, which are available for specific communities of children with special needs (some at no cost). Some include Camp Sunshine (http://www.campsunshine.org/) in Maine, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp (http://www.holeinthewallgang.org/) in Connecticut, Easter Seals (http://ma.easterseals.com/site/PageServer?pagename=MADR_Camp), and Dream Day at the Beach on Cape Cod (http://www.dreamdayoncapecod.org/forms/capecodlife.pdf), to name a few. Ask your child’s specialists if there are programs for which your child qualifies.

4. There are still several sources of camp scholarships. Call Family TIES (contact information below) for the scholarship list, and for a flyer about fun family activities you can do to raise money to help defray the cost of summer camp expenses.

The 12th Edition of the Family TIES of Massachusetts Directory of Resources for Families of Children and Youth with Special Needs is now available on our Web site. The March 2009 edition includes an expanded resource section in Spanish and Portuguese. Or, call your Regional Parent Coordinator to receive your free copy.

Family TIES of Massachusetts is a statewide information and parent-to-parent support project for families of children with special needs and chronic illness. It is administered by parent coordinators housed in each of the regional offices of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Contact your parent coordinator at 1-800-905-TIES (8437) or visit us at www.massfamilyties.org.