Easter Seals Greater Houston hosts several camps throughout the Greater Houston area and at Camp For All in Burton, Texas every summer. These camps serve children with disabilities, some of which are medically fragile, and their siblings. The days are filled with inclusive, accessible activities that all the children and volunteers enjoy. The following was written by one of our amazing 2018 summer camp interns.
Hi my name is Conlee Dull and I go to Memorial High School. This will be my 5th year volunteering with Easter Seals Greater Houston specifically their summer Camps and Recreation Program. I think by far one of my favorite memories from camp is the first time I ever gave a camper an award. Just to see the smile light up on their face and how proud their family was honestly made everything I did with my camper even more rewarding. Through volunteering I have learned that people with disabilities are the same as any other kids and they just want to have a good time without being judged just as any other kid would. Through volunteering with Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Camp and Recreation Program I have really developed a passion of working with people with special needs and I can’t wait to see how much it grows this summer when I intern!
Conlee Dull, Summer Camps and Recreation Intern, Easter Seals Greater Houston
The Woodlands Children’s Museum is a very generous community partner with the ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) Infant Program of Easter Seals Greater Houston. Beginning in September, the museum has offered classroom space for ECI to conduct group sessions for some of the children receiving ECI services. The group meets one hour, one morning each week. Typically, four to six children attend group. One parent attends group with his/her child to offer support, and to observe strategies the family can also use at home. Each group session is led by an EIS (Early Intervention Specialist) and an SLP (Speech Language Pathologist). School readiness and communication skills are the goals of the group, preparing the children for community preschools they may attend after they graduate from ECI at 3 years old. The purpose of group services is to encourage children to attend, participate, and interact with peers and adults to promote successful transition into school. The EIS and SLP help develop these skills through a variety of hands-on play activities. As Abraham Maslow states, “Almost all creativity involves purposeful play”.
Themes for the group activities change each month. The theme is usually related to a children’s book such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?; There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly; and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Activities may include interacting with books and songs, movement activities, exploring various textures through play, art, and snacks, and participating in social play with their classmates.
By offering this classroom space, the museum gives children the opportunity to learn in a group setting, which may help them transition easier into preschool. “Children understand and remember concepts best when they learn from direct personal experience.” (Joseph Cornell) This partnership demonstrates community agencies working together for the benefit of children, and enhancing their development. ECI of Easter Seals Greater Houston is very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with The Woodlands Children’s Museum and we hope this community partnership can continue in the future.
Sharon Mott, Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program Transition and Outreach Coordinator, Easter Seals Greater Houston