In 1997, Arkansas Support Network started a four-week, half-day summer camp for kids with disabilities ages ten through seventeen. Since 2000 we�ve provided this service, which we call KidsClub, in partnership with the Fayetteville Boys and Girls Club. Since that time we have continued to work hard to make KidsClub available and accessible to more families in Northwest Arkansas. In the past, families traveled from Rogers, Springdale, and Siloam Springs to bring their children to the Fayetteville Boys and Girls Club. This was more than an inconvenience for families�it also meant that these kids weren�t able to spend summers with kids from their own neighborhoods and schools. To offer improved availability and accessibility to families in the region, we currently operate KidsClub in partnership with The Jones Center for Families in Springdale, the Rogers Activity Center, and the Siloam Springs Boys and Girls Club. In these four locations, our most recent KidsClub had a total enrollment of over 55 kids.
Our purpose is two-fold: First, we want to provide an enriching and fun environment for children who would otherwise spend their summers at home, often without contact with other children. Our second goal is to provide much needed support to working families who, because of a lack of child care, are unable to work during the summer months. It�s difficult to find child care for any child who has severe disabilities�when that child reaches the age where most children stop going to child care, it becomes virtually impossible. We know many hard working families who are placed in serious financial jeopardy each summer as they struggle to provide support and supervision for their children while maintaining employment.
Our program has been successful in meeting the first goal�our partnerships with the activity centers in our partner communities have provided opportunities for kids with severe disabilities to take part in all kinds of activities with other kids their own age. It�s proven to be a great learning experience for the kids with disabilities and for the other kids who attend KidsClub.
In an effort to better meet our second goal, assisting working families with much needed child care, we expanded our camp to a full nine weeks in 2002. We continue that trend, and hope to eventually expand our scope and operate the camp during the Christmas break and spring break in the future. We are determined to make it possible for working parents to keep their jobs when school is not in session.
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