As some summer programs for kids and young adults, recently, were able to open, Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ this week awarded camp scholarships to young people with special needs and to children whose families are in financial crisis -- to provide them and their families with the respite and resources they need.
Although the pandemic forced schools and summer programs across the heart of NJ to shut down in March, due to our state’s vigilance in following stay-in-place orders to flatten the curve, some summer programs for kids and young adults, recently, were able to open.
Specifically for young adults and teens with special needs, the social isolation that COVID brought with it, was very difficult for them to grasp. They’ve grown up working hard to be included, not isolated; and the past four months have been quite confusing for them, as well as detrimental to their mental health.
Camp is a place to be with peers – learning, doing and experiencing. The special needs programs are typically unique in their combination of academic, therapeutic, and recreational programming.
One camp that kids in the heart of NJ have repeatedly gone to is HASC, where they seek to maximize the development of each individual’s potential by providing special education, speech, physical, occupational and music therapies as well as computer instruction, adaptive physical education and adaptive aquatics.
Along with their academic program, the campers are able to participate in the full range of recreational activities including (but not limited to) sports, swimming, night activities, Torah learning, roller skating, carnivals, concerts and mainstream social programs. As a result, these special children and adults often gain skills and achieve milestones beyond the scope of parental expectations while enjoying enjoyable activities in a stress-free, social environment.
For the parents, Chanale Wolosow from The Friendship Circle of Central Jersey, says it best, “Parents are unable to work as their children require constant one to one care; they need support, respite, and resources. During this time, they have been forced to become full-time therapists, nurses, teachers, caregivers, and so much more. Many parents are feeling frustrated, unsupported, and burnt out.”
Camp offers therapeutic benefits for children and a much-needed respite for both child and parent.