Looking to extend its programs to more people with disabilities or special needs, the Wellesley Recreation Department recently met with a group of parents to learn about what activities they’d like to see offered for their family members and others.
Two of those parents, Diana Turk and Leda Eizenberg, reached out to us to help spread the word.
“The town sorely needs more adaptive and inclusive activities,” Turk says. Families have suggested all sorts of new activities, plus resources such as playground equipment for older kids, she says.
“I’m particularly interested in involving disabled adults in the program design process,” Eizenberg says.
A barbecue at Morses Pond this summer is in the works for kids and adults with disabilities or special needs, and their families, to begin fostering more of a community.
From there, discussions will take place about possible programs, including Special Olympics activities and open gym time, to be offered beginning in the fall.
Rec also wants to get input on current offerings. Programs such as TOPS basketball and soccer for K-8 kids, as well as the unified track and field program at Wellesley High, are already available.
Wellesley Recreation Deputy Director Brandon Fitts, a certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS) and founder of Brookline Rec’s Recreation Therapy Division before he came to Wellesley, says “working with individuals who have disabilities has always been a passion of mine.” He’s made previous attempts in Wellesley to get adaptive programming such as sled hockey and sports nights off the ground, but most offerings have fizzled out. He wound up reaching out to other recreation departments in the area to establish the Metrowest Adaptive Sports Collaborative to provide regional programs.
Fitts says he recently ran into a friend who teaches at Wellesley High School in the Special Education Department and this rekindled the conversation about adaptive programming in Wellesley. “At the same time, a parent got in touch with me about adaptive programming. The stars seem to be aligning to offer some adaptive programming here in Wellesley and I’m optimistic it’s going to get off the ground this time with these rockstar parents behind everything,” Fitts says.
Special Olympics Soccer registration is open now at www.wellesleyrec.org. “If we can get enough people to sign up for FREE, were going to start up in the Fall,” says Fitts, who adds that anyone with a disability who wants to participate in any Rec Department program should reach out.
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