While we know “time for us” is important while raising disabled children, equally important is “time for them”. While raising my mentally disabled grandchildren, one of the resources I found extremely helpful was the Hamilton (ON) Culture and Recreation Program. Due to my financial limitations, the Recreation Fee Assistance Program enabled my grandchildren to swim for free, for one year, at any of the Hamilton-Wentworth Recreation Centres; plus, a choice between a free week of camp or registration in recreational programs, or day camp during PA days, to a maximum of $150 per child, per year. There is also the opportunity to apply for a 50% fee assistance for a City’s affiliated sports program to a maximum of $100 per child, per year. To qualify for the assistance program there are stipulations, so go to www.hamilton.ca/cultureandrecreation/ for full info on how to apply.
Another service is Hamilton and District Extend-A-Family which offers friendship programs and respite to challenged children and teens and their families. Extend-A-Family offers six programs that serve the special needs community:
- The Buddy Program – An individual volunteer befriends a child with special needs to provide respite to the family by taking the child on outings
- The Junior Buddy Program – A volunteer provides respite to the family by visiting the special needs child in their home or by accompanying the caregiver on outings
- The Program Buddy Program – A volunteer will meet the special needs child at ASD/Recreation Program and engages the child during the event
- The ASD/Recreation Program – Events are offered at least six times a month in the community and are planned and supervised by the ASD/Recreation Coordinator with the help of volunteers
- The Host Program – A volunteer family befriends a child with special needs and takes them out of the home to provide respite for the parents and other siblings
- The Summer Support Program – Summer Support Workers help to supervise group activities throughout the summer in addition to working with children one-on-one.
There is small membership fee, and the ASD/Recreation Program events sometimes require registration and fees. For information visit www.extendafamilyhamilton.synthasite.com or call 905-383-2885.
Other organizations include:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton and Burlington at www.callbigbrothers.com is a mentoring organization for children and youth whose goal is to inspire and empower young people to reach their full potential.
- Mountain Kidz Klub, is an organization with the goal of providing a safe and welcoming environment to the youth of our community. Website www.mountainkidzklub.com.
- Local Scouts/Guides programs are worth checking out.
- Boy/Girls Clubs of Hamilton at www.kboysandgirlsclub.com.
- Hamilton Libraries also offer many programs for children and teens.
- The “Y” which also offers fee assistance to those on limited income.
- More organizations are listed in detail on the website of Inform Hamilton at www.inform.hamilton.ca.
I also recently discovered ACCESS 2 ENTERTAINMENT card which provides free admission (or significant discount) for support persons accompanying a person with a disability at member movie theaters across Canada. The person with the disability pays regular admission. For more information call Easter Seals Canada at 416-932-8382, website: http://www.easterseals.ca.
Other Recreation Programs for Kids with Special Needs
- http://www.ghdsa.org Golden Horseshoe Disabled Sports Association
- http://www.rhyc.on.ca AbleSail: The Royal Hamilton Yacht Club
- http://www.hcba.on.ca Hamilton Challenger Baseball
- http://www.ancasteroso.org Ancaster Phoenix Soccer Program
- http://www.notjustanotherdancestudio.ca Dance
- http://www.especiallyyou.weebly.com Dance & Drama
- http://www.tead.on.ca Horseback Riding
- http://www.sunrise-therapeutic.ca Riding & Learning Centre
- http://www.windrushstable.com Horseback Riding Therapeutic Centre
- http://www.andersonspeech.com Horseback Riding and Speech Therapy
- http://www.waterlootrack3.com Downhill Skiing
- http://www.yogabilities.ca Yoga
- http://www.hssm.ca Hamilton Suzuki School of Music
- http://www.makiingwaveshamilton.org Swimming Lessons
- http://www.brantfordgolf-cc.com Curling
- http://www.specialneedskids2000.homestead.com Various Sports
- http://www.access2.ca Access to Entertainment
- http://www.extendafamilyhamilton.on.ca Peer Buddy Program
Funding for Recreation Programs
- Recreation Assistance Program: 905-546-2424 Ext. 4569
- http://www.canandiantire.ca/jumpstart Jump Start (Canadian Tire)
Having posted all that, while all these activities are undoubtedly of great help to caregivers of challenged children, from my own experience the most difficult part for me was actually getting my grandchildren to agree to attend any program. All suffer from anxiety and poor social skills and to get them out the door to attend social activities was often a hair-pulling (mine) exasperating experience which invariably saw them running to the door, not in anticipation of having fun with a group of kids, but to escape being registered in something they preferred not to do. Oh boy, there goes my respite again!
- See the child before the disability says UNICEF – amen! (lovethatmax.com)