BAY SHORE, NY – The National Inclusion Project has partnered with The Great South Bay YMCA to create an inclusive environment where children with and without disabilities can play, learn and laugh TOGETHER. As part of the partnership, the National Inclusion Project provides the Let’s ALL Play program model, training, expertise, annual Power of Play Conference and a wide network of inclusion experts ready to problem solve and share best practices on ensuring that no child sits on the sidelines.
The Great South Bay YMCA is one of just 13 new organizations that the National Inclusion Project has chosen to partner with this year. “We believe our partnership with the YMCA will get us one step closer to making the inclusion of children with disabilities the expectation and not the exception,” says Jerry Aiken, National Inclusion Project Executive Director.
The YMCA Special Needs/Inclusion program allows children with varying special needs to attend our typical Great South Bay Summer Day Camp with a free 1:1 or 2:1 shadow. The children who attend camp through the Inclusion Program participate in the same variety of activities that every other camper has access to. These activities include: arts and crafts, rock climbing, swimming, dance, cooking, karate and so much more.
Research shows overwhelming evidence that the Let’s ALL Play model helps children with disabilities improve self-esteem, social skills and confidence, while those without disabilities improved their leadership, problem solving and empathy skills. The model makes it possible for all children to come together, and participate in recreational activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, community service, physical fitness and more. More importantly, it allows children with and without disabilities to create friendships that may have not been possible in other parts of their lives.
“As it is in many communities, summer programs for children with special needs are extremely hard to find.” Says Bob Pettersen, Executive Director at the Great South Bay YMCA “Partnering with the National Inclusion Project will truly help us to serve more children each year, providing them with a summer of fun and great experiences they may not normally have access to. We are so excited to have been chosen to be part of this amazing, much needed initiative.”
About the National Inclusion Project:
The National Inclusion Project was co-founded in 2003 by entertainer Clay Aiken and serves to bridge the gap that exists between young people with disabilities and the world around them. By driving the movement for social inclusion in after school programs, summer camps, and community based activities, children of all abilities learn, play and laugh together. Over the last twelve years, the Project has provided training, curriculum, and support to YMCAs, JCCs, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4H, CampFire USA, Kids Museums, Zoos and other community organizations looking to become inclusive or enhance their inclusive programs. For more information on the National Inclusion Project and to help ensure no child sits on the sidelines, visit their website at www.inclusionproject.org.