We Are Westridge
A community blog featuring Head of School Elizabeth J. McGregor, the Westridge Leadership Team, our esteemed faculty members and occasional special guests
Mary Brown: Pioneering Camps for Children with Special Needs at the Summer Opportunities Fair
With the Summer Opportunities Fair (SOF) just over a week away, it is not only a time for planning and preparation, but a time for reflection. For 25 years, SOF has introduced a variety of summer experiences for all types of children. As we think back on fairs past, the evolution of programs for children with special needs is definitely a bright spot in SOF history.
This campfire story begins with former Westridge parent, Mary Brown. As part of the dedicated team of SOF volunteers, Mary quickly noticed that special needs camps comprised just a couple pages of the fair catalog. Drawing from her personal experience as a parent of a child with special needs, she knew that parents in her same position would not attend the fair without a guarantee of ample options for their children. She transformed the rather small listing in the catalog to a dedicated section as well as a booth at the fair. With these resources in place, it became absolutely worthwhile for parents with special needs children to attend. Not only could they look forward to amazing programs specializing in grief counseling, equine therapy, and dealing with cancer, blindness, and diabetes, but they had someone there to talk to – someone who was not just informed, but shared their experience.
Opportunistic as ever, Mary morphed the booth into SpecialCampsforSpecialKids.com, an online database where parents can search through the multitude of programs available to their kids. The site launched in 2006 and continues to be a comprehensive online resource managed by Mary and her husband, Drew.
We hope to see you this February 6th at the Summer Opportunities Fair. Mary will not be attending, but has passed the torch onto another Westridge parent who will be managing the special needs booth continuing the legacy of being an informative, helpful, and relatable resource.Summer Opportunities Fair is an event that has been put on by the Westridge Parent Association for 25 years but is a public service to the larger community. Over 100 camps exhibit at the fair, and around a thousand adults and children come to learn about the camps as they sort out their summer plans. Camps range from traditional day camps to international travels, for boys and girls ages 8-18, as well as a special area devoted to programs for children with special needs.
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