As many of you know, I am a very big advocate for local programs. Today, I want to tell you about a local program that I am absolutely honoured to be a part of, a local program that every single community needs. I’ve spoken of this program before but not in a lot of detail. I’ve been attempting to write this post for weeks now but this program is just so amazing, I often find myself lost for words when I attempt to speak of it. This program is: Community of Hearts.
Community of Hearts (CoH) is a program founded by three pretty cool people. Susan Wahlroth (the mother to a pretty awesome young man I’ve had the pleasure of working with at Camp, Swimming, CoH etc.), Jason Dudgeon (an Educational Assistant for twelve years amongst other things) and Andrea Kretz (a Special Education teacher). These guys saw a need for more programs for individuals with disAbilities, increased wait-lists and funding cuts are making hard to give individuals with Special Needs the support they deserve and need. CoH is a not-for-profit organization based out of Guelph, Ontario. They offer three different program areas that cater to the increased needs of people with Special Needs in our community.
The three program areas they cover are; the Educational Day Program, the Social Network and Cottage Crashers.
The Educational Day Program or Life Long Learning Centre is one of the neatest parts of the organization (in my opinion). It focuses on, exactly what it says, Life Long Learning. More often than not, individuals with Special Needs graduate out of the school system and are moved into programs where they don’t continuously use and further the skills they’ve learned through High School. The Life Learning Centre allows for a continuation of learning and practical skill practice. CoH focuses on independence and provides and safe and judgment-free learning environment. Learn more about the Learning Centre here: http://communityofhearts.ca/learning-centre/
The Social Network. This aspect of the program is super cool too! CoH organizes various social events throughout the year for individuals with Special Needs in our community, to attend. CoH organizes some pretty sweet dances that are definitely a highlight of the year. I think my personal, all-time favourite CoH dance was the 2013 Valentines dance but the 2013 Summer Rush dance takes a close second. Learn more about the Social Network here: http://communityofhearts.ca/social-network/
Cottage Crashers, the summer vacation program. The Day Program runs the same schedule as the local School Board so, the summer months are still summer vacation! CoH offers a really neat summer vacation called Cottage Crashers. This is the program that I am least familiar with as I am at camp all summer but, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the program. The Cottage Crashers program was recently featured in Cottage Life magazine. The focus of the program is Life Skills and independence. The participants are actively involved in planning and implementing meals and activities. This is such an amazing way to spend some time during the summer. Learn more about Cottage Crashers here: http://communityofhearts.ca/cottage-crashers/
I am genuinely so honoured and proud to be a part of this amazing program. Every community needs a program like this. (I blog for CoH over on their website too: http://communityofhearts.ca/coh-summer-rush-dance-2013/
Head over to their Facebook Page and see what amazing things they’re up to, today!
Tagged: acceptance, accessible, Autism, awareness, community, dance, Different Abilities, Different not less, Down Syndrome, education, Fragile X syndrome, inspiration, More Alike than Different, PDD-NOS, respect, school, special needs