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KidsPeace Sarah's Smile Summer Program a Big Hit

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KidsPeace provided another summer filled with fun and games for 150 children teens on the Autism Spectrum. Sarah's Smile is a popular camp-like day program that offers autistic children the opportunity to have fun and increase social skills in a safe and nurturing environment. The groups go on field trips, play games, make wonderful art, interact with caring staff and make many friends.

 

"This was a great summer for the kids," said Program Manager of Community Autism Services and Blended Case Management Paige Keeter. "We brought the older kids up to the Orchard Hills Campus every week to give them a changed of scene and a lot of room to run and play." Competitive games of Capture the Flag were great fun and became eagerly anticipated weekly events between the Lions and the Alligators. It was so popular, Paige added, that one boy who moved out west during camp called her to ask who captured the flag the next week.

 

Sarah's Smile was able to accommodate 126 children a day, which required careful planning by staff to ensure that vacations were factored in to provide some camp to as many kids as possible. The children, who attended four days a week, filled 14 classrooms at the KidsPeace CDCRT located on Broadway in Bethlehem. Paige was delighted that 80% of the staff were returning from the previous year, which speaks well of the program. Many have been counselors for many years, moving up in title as they complete college and receive certifications. "They form relationships with the children and with each other," Paige continued, "which only makes the experience more meaningful for everyone involved."

 

Field Trips

 

Each week, the classes go on field trips that educate and are very enjoyable. In addition to trips to the more rural Orchard Hills Campus, the kids went to several great places. They visited Flint Hill farms where they learned about milking cows, making butter and cheese and what dairy farms are all about. They also went bowling at the Rose Bowl in Allentown and got to attend a day game of the Iron Pigs baseball team. The week before the game, they took a tour of Coca Cola Stadium to see where the game would be played, where they would sit and how the facility operated inside and out. They participated in an onsite petting zoo and had a carnival to mark the last day of camp. There were moon bounces, popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones, a dunk tank and games they could play for prizes. It was a great day for the kids and staff.

 

The kids and staff played their last capture the flag game on the day before the carnival and had a picnic at Orchard Hills. Paige invited KidsPeace associates who do not typically interact with the kids to attend the picnic because their support throughout the summer and the entire year make it possible to serve these wonderful kids. She paired staff members up with kids as lunch buddies, and new relationships were formed that allowed the kids to ask lots of questions and meet yet more caring KidsPeace employees.

 

For More Information

As this summer closes, Paige is planning for next summer's Sarah Smile program. "Each year we hope to expand to accommodate more children," according to Paige. "The kids love it and so do the parents, who are great supporters." There are always many more applicants than there are spaces, so Paige keeps a list of interested participants throughout the year and always sends prior attendees invitations to apply for the following summer. The mailing is sent out in late January, and the spots are all filled by March 1.

 

To receive more information on Sarah's Smile Summer Program, contact Paige Keeter at 610-799-7357 or email at Paige.Keeter@KidsPeace.org.


Trying to find summer programs for my son Leo his Brother Ezequiel is currently signed up aand will be attending. Please let me know when the program starts.
Posted by: Rosemary Ramirez at 6/6/2013 12:28 PM


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