Education

South Florida summer camps offer programs for children with special needs

Kids and adults with disabilitiesas their families kick off the Easter Seals Walk With Me event in Coral Gables on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Easter Seals runs three summer camps in Miami-Dade for children with disabilities.
Kids and adults with disabilitiesas their families kick off the Easter Seals Walk With Me event in Coral Gables on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Easter Seals runs three summer camps in Miami-Dade for children with disabilities. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

For children with special needs, this summer is all about inclusion.

At summer camps across Miami-Dade, children and teens with special needs will get to play the same games, learn the same material and participate in the same field trips as their peers.

“Inclusion of children with a disability in after-school and summer camps hasn’t necessarily been the norm here in Miami until The Children’s Trust began to require it of all of their providers a few years ago,” said Yvonne Sawyer, chief operating officer and senior program director of Hope for Miami, a nonprofit that provides after-school and summer camp programs for special-needs children.

In fact, The Children’s Trust has created The Camp App, which enables users to search for programs by neighborhood or subject keywords, such as ballet or soccer camps. The free app, available for download in the Apple Store and Google Play, as well at www.thechildrenstrust.org, also includes information on camps that offer programs for special-needs students.

In today’s cover story, Neighbors has included some of these camps, which offer a range of activities for a wide range of children, including those on the autism spectrum and those with other developmental disabilities.

Here’s a look at some of them:

HOPE FOR MIAMI

In 2005, Mayra Sanabria was initially concerned that a summer camp would not benefit her deaf daughter, also named Mayra, a teenager at the time.

“As a parent and a teacher, I felt deaf students lacked opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities like after-school and summer camps since communication with peers and tutors has to be in American Sign Language,” said Sanabria. “When I got involved in Hope for Miami, they heard my plight and brought my daughter and nine other students from Barbara Goleman to do an inclusion summer camp.”

Now, Mayra is a business owner who tutors deaf children in Hope for Miami’s after-school program. And her mother is the disabilities program manager for Hope for Miami, which offers an array of programs for children with special needs.

Hope for Miami will host a Success and Whiz Kidz Summer Camp for special-needs youth, ages 5-22, who are interested in science, culture, arts, drama, sports, and improving their literacy and social skills.

Camp will be offered at the following locations in Miami-Dade: El Buen Pastor Day Care Center, 310 E. Fifth St., Hialeah; Iglesia Bautista de Kendall, 7441 SW 127th Ave., Kendall; John Ferguson High School, 15900 SW 56th St., Southwest Miami-Dade; The Learning Experience School, 5651 SW 82nd Ave., Southwest Miami-Dade; Evangel Church, 590 NW 159th St., Northwest Miami-Dade; Iglesia Bautista Estrella de Belen, 510 E. 41st St., Hialeah; Pinelands Presbyterian Church, 10201 Bahia Dr., Cutler Bay; and Wayside Baptist Preschool, 7701 SW 98th St., Southwest Miami-Dade. A snack will be provided.

Prices vary depending on location and age group, but all campers must pay $10 for accident insurance. For information, call 786-388-3000 or email cely@hopeformiami.org or visit hopeformiami.org

Easter Seals South Florida

Easter Seals South Florida provides a free nine-week summer camp that offers literacy, swimming and social skills development for children ages 2 to 5 with an austim spectrum disorder or related disabilities. The program, which has a student-teacher ratio of 1 to 3, uses evidence-based High Scope curriculum and Applied Behavior Analysis strategies. The camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 12 to Aug. 4 at the Easter Seals facility, 1475 NW 14th Ave., Miami. Lunches and snacks are provided for free.

Easter Seals also has a free camp for special-needs children ages 6 to 12 that works on literacy, physical fitness, social skills and art. The program runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terrace. Lunches and snacks are provided free of charge.

Lastly, Easter Seals provides a free seven-week summer independent living, life skills and culinary arts training programs for youth ages 13-22 with autism spectrum disorders or other developmental disabilities. The program is offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at at the Easter Seals facility, 1475 NW 14th Ave., Miami. The program provides STS vouchers for eligible campers.

For information on any of these programs, call 305-547-4718 or email crocha@sfl.easterseals.com or email Susana Velez at svelez@sfl.easterseals.com.

Touching Miami With Love

A camp specifically for students with learning disabilities, Touching Miami With Love offers programs in fitness, arts, and improving literacy and social skills. The camp is open for children ages 5 to 14 who reside in Homestead or Overtown.

The camp will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., June 19-July 28 at the Overtown site, 711 NW Sixth Ave., and at the Homestead site, 1350 SW Fourth St. Camp is free, but campers must pay a $25 fee for a shirt and weekly field trips.

For information, call 305-416-0435 or visit https://www.touchingmiamiwithlove.org/.

Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center

The Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center has a summer camp for children with special needs called Tikvah. The program is available to children, teens and adults with cognitive and/or physical disabilities.

JCC membership is required in order to participate in the special-needs program, which includes indoor/outdoor games, swimming, cooking and field trips.

There also is an inclusion program for high-functioning campers in Alper’s regular summer camp. Campers will have an advocate to guide them throughout the day and will be part of a general camp bunk. Again, membership in the Alper JCC is required.

For more information, please contact the Special Needs office at 305-271-9000, x273 or jsarmiento@alperjcc.org.

Thomas Armour Youth Ballet

Boys and girls ages 5 to 11 who are interested in ballet can attend the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet summer camp from June 12-Aug. 4. The program is open to children with all levels of abilities.

Campers will have breakfast and lunch, three hours of dance daily, an hour and 30 minutes of reading per week, two hours of art and music enrichment, cooking class once per week, two field trips, and workshops about anti-bullying, self-esteem and robotics.

Camp will run from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. at four locations: Morningside K-8 Academy, 6620 NE Fifth Ave., Miami; Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Complex, 3000 NW 199th St., Miami Gardens; Frances S. Tucker Elementary School, 3500 Douglas Road, Miami; and Robert Russa Moton Elementary School, 18050 Homestead Ave., West Perrine. Prices are $200 for the total eight-week session, and that includes uniforms, meals and field trips.

For information, call 305-667-5543 or email camila@taballet.org.

Magic City Kids at Charles Hadley Park

The camp is offered to students with learning disabilities, ages 6 to 13, who are interested in improving their academic achievement in reading, math or science. The camp is at Charles Hadley Park, 1350 NW 50th St., Miami.

Campers will attend field trips and lunch is provided for free. For information, call 786-402-3685 or email stephanie.rocha@gmail.com to register.

United Martial Arts Academy Enrichment Program

The United Martial Arts Academy will host a summer camp for children, ages 5 to 13, in the Homestead and Florida City areas. The camp is for children with learning and behavioral disabilities and who are on the autism spectrum.

Camp activities include kickboxing, kung fu, aerobic martial arts, self-defense techniques, academic support, social skills development, nutrition education and biweekly field trips. Camp will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 230 N. Krome Ave. in Homestead. Prices are $85 per week, and uniforms are $35. There is a $50 sibling discount. Lunch and snacks are provided.

For information or to register, call 786-357-4255 or email Kelly Regalado at kellyr430@gmail.com.

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