Unique Camp for Special Education Children Launches This Summer – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

A brand new, one-of-a-kind summer camp for special needs children is coming to Dallas next month.

The Potter’s House Church is teaming up with nonprofit Ability Connection, a Dallas-based nonprofit specializing in care for all types of intellectual and developmental disabilities. The two groups, which are collaborating for the first time ever, will launch The CORE Dimensions Skills Camp.

CORE stands for Communication, Organization, Responsibility, Empathy.

The program reinforces concepts familiar to what students are exposed to in the classroom during the school year. It also aims to provide support in all areas of communication (verbal and non-verbal), socialization, and general life skills.

“School subjects and classroom experiences are vital, but it’s also crucial to expose children with intellectual disabilities to experiences that promote independent living as the student matures into adulthood,” said Jim Hanophy, CEO of Ability Connection. “With CORE, students will focus on Learning Labs involving a variety of critical skills that promote independence, including time management, meal prep and the importance of creating a routine to enforce responsibility.”

The partnership came about when Ability Connection learned of The Potter’s House program, also serving the special needs community, called Capable Minds, Hearts & Hands: The Potter’s House IDD Outreach.

It’s open to children ages 10 to 17 and lasts for just one day, catering to the specific needs of families, especially during the so-called “summer slide.”

“These are families that sometimes would be reluctant to send a kid to a camp for four weeks or five weeks. So we felt like this was just a great little tune-up for the summer and to really kind of focus on the skills,” said Hanophy. “There is evidence that during the summer, especially kids in special education, the skill set tends to regress during the summer.”

Teachers say their program focuses on fun learning labs that promote independence like time management, meal prep and creating their own routines. When each Learning Lab concludes, camp attendees are guided through the process of self-reflection, and assistance in developing a plan to react to their environments and develop lifelong problem-solving skills.

“This is not your average camp. Because it’s a one-day pop-up, we are having to make sure that we’re very purposeful and making this fun even though it’s academic and life skills-based,” said Meghan Payes, program director for the CORE Camp. “These activities are going to be fun and these kids are going to come out, gaining more knowledge but also having a time of their lives.”

Registration is now open for several dates in July:

  • Friday, July 8, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at Cochran Chapel UMC
  • Friday, July 15, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at Highland Park United Methodist Church
  • Saturday, July 23, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at The Potter’s House Church Dallas TBC
  • Friday, July 29, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at Senter Recreation Center in Irving

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