These are just a few of the many success stories from MPIR participants, and they demonstrate how involvement in recreation may have indirect benefits on other aspects of an individual's life.
Charlie is an 8-year old boy with Down syndrome and autism. Charlie has LOTS of energy, and his mom decided he needed to use some of this energy participating in recreation, so he became involved in basketball and a young athletes' program.
Throughout this involvement, Charlie got along well with his peers and developed skills in a variety of sports. His involvement was enhanced with a support person, who taught him to follow instructions, but then stepped aside so Charlie could participate independently. The benefits from his participation not only exceeded his mom's expectations of using up his energy, but his teachers also noted he was happier at school and performed better on his school work.
Sarah is a 7-year-old girl with autism whose behaviors include running, kicking, and biting. She is also very strong-willed; wanting to do only the things she wants to do. Her parents signed her up for four weeks of summer camp and a support person was hired to assist her with her participation in this program. Since Sarah struggled with transition, the staff and the parents instituted a timer/countdown method of transitioning into different activities within the camp. On her first day of camp, Sarah ran off and spent the day trying to kick other campers and ignoring directions. With the patience and encouragement of the support staff through the course of one week, Sarah came around and began to kick less, listen more, and had fewer behavioral issues.
At the beginning of the second week, the support person instituted a reward system, in which Sarah got to have popcorn at the end of the day if she participated in two or three activities without any inappropriate behaviors. This was the perfect fix; Sarah listened, had only minor behavioral problems, played in most of the games, and even participated in arts and crafts. She also found a "boyfriend" who wanted to be with her all of the time.
By the end of four weeks of camp, it was clear Sarah was excited about being at camp, and did not feel the need to act out. Her parents were amazed with her successes at camp and extremely happy with the outcome.
James is a 6-year old boy who has cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, oppositional defiance disorder and some visual impairment. His first day of a six-week camp was a long day for everyone. He spent the day hitting, kicking, spitting, and cussing at the camp staff and the other children. The staff intervened and reviewed the rules with him. During the next few days, he persistently ignored his support person and the camp staff, so a new support person was hired. This individual happened to be someone James knew from church and his eyes lit up, although he knew he would no longer be in charge. With a new support person, his behavior changed drastically and other campers started to include him in the camp activities, once they saw he liked to sing and play.
Throughout the rest of camp, all of the campers wanted to be in his group, and they encouraged him to be the song leader because he constantly made up new songs. The campers fell in love with him, were wonderful with him, and wanted him to be a part of everything. Essentially, the campers took over and made James' inclusion work. James changed his behavior and the other campers accepted him with open arms. His experience turned out better than anyone expected and demonstrated the importance of patience, communication, and making changes when necessary to meet each individual's needs.