Recreation. Social events. Sports. Leisure-time. Hobbies. Friends. Adventure. What would life be like without them? Simply put, no fun! Easter Seals recreation programs take many forms, from sports and fitness activities to Saturday-night social gatherings and community outings. While promoting fun is key, Easter Seals recreation programs also meet other important objectives, as well.
In general, people with disabilities are less likely to socialize, eat out, or attend religious services than their non-disabled counterparts. Thirty-five percent of people with disabilities are completely uninvolved in their communities, compared to 21 percent of those without disabilities (source: National Organization on Disabilities, 2004).
Today, Easter Seals offers the nation's largest network of recreation and camping programs for children and adults with disabilities. Accessible grounds and facilities, adapted equipment and trained staff allow participants to accomplish what they may never have thought was possible - like swimming, traversing a river or playing wheelchair tennis. Other programs provide less ambitious - but no less significant - activities that teach everyday living skills, such as planning an outing to a movie or museum.
Easter Seals frequently partners with other agencies to provide inclusive activities. Recent collaborations have resulted in a summer picnic, holiday parties, a fitness class, and a fishing expedition. In partnership with the Boy Scouts kids of all abilities are able to earn merit badges along side each other at Easter Seals Camp Sunnyside in Iowa. This provides the typically developing boys opportunity to develop leadership skills and learn to get along with people who are different than themselves; skills they will rely on at work and play later in life. At the same time the boys with special needs have the chance to participate in a scouting program and experience character building outdoor activities along with their peers.
Easter Seals offers center-based activities, as well. “Socializing, staying active, and trying new things doesn’t always come easy for children and adults with disabilities,” says John Stephenson administrator for Easter Seals Alabama's camp ASCCA. “It’s important to make entertainment accessible. We work hard to provide opportunities to gain confidence and discover new abilities. Through play, we provide the opportunity to discover oneself and relish the joy of accomplishment; giving an invaluable gift of fun.”
Every year, nearly 40,000 children and adults participate in one of Easter Seals recreation and camping programs across the country. For more information about Easter Seals recreation programs, contact Easter Seals.