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7 Virtual Summer Activities Perfect for Kids With Disabilities

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Many kids and their families look forward to summer camps every year. Kids with disabilities get the chance to learn new skills, meet new friends and have a great time participating in new activities. Because of COVID-19, summer camp and other activities may look a bit different this year as organizations shift to online platforms.

Virtual summer camp and classes come with pros and cons. While it may open up opportunities that weren’t available in your local region via the internet, it’s not quite the same as kids having the chance to hang out with each other in person. And even if your child’s favorite summer camp is open this year, you may be worried about infection if your child is at high risk for getting COVID-19.

The good news is, if you want to make sure your child gets the most out of their summer and gets to learn new things with their peers, you do have options. Here are seven camps or organizations offering online learning opportunities that are accessible to kids with disabilities. 

1. Animation and Film Workshops

Want to learn how to do animation, create special effects for movies or video game design? Exceptional Minds is a studio geared toward people on the spectrum that wants to teach you all of these entertainment skills. This summer, Exceptional Minds — which recently partnered with the Cartoon Network for an internship program — will offer two camps for kids on the spectrum ages 12 and up. The two-week camps will be hosted entirely online, and you can choose what you want to learn along with fun electives, like improv or drawing.

To learn more, visit Exceptional Minds’ website.

2. Musical Theater and Acting Workshops

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This week, over 75 students, teachers, volunteers and co-actors from The Miracle Project connected through our first ever virtual Social Skills and Musical Theater classes via Zoom. The results were incredible! Inside our virtual classrooms we sang showtunes, rehearsed original songs for upcoming shows, learned new virtual choreography, and acted out scenes and played improv games! Mostly, we connected. Students, who had felt alone and isolated due to these challenging times, shared their thoughts, feelings, and fears and they gave and received the support they needed from each other. Coach E provided separate parent support, mindfulness and relaxation techniques, and suggestions to ease anxiety for for themselves and their families. In Miracle Project style, we celebrated being together. We applaud our amazing staff, co-actors, parents and students who brought their hearts and art to each class. By holding our classes virtually, we are able to continue to provide this sanctuary full of love, acceptance, appreciation, and friendship while staying connected and finding joy! #joy #makemiracles #themiracles #gratitude

A post shared by The Miracle Project (@themiracleprojectlive) on

The Miracle Project offers accessible musical theater, acting and other arts classes to those on the spectrum and other young people with disabilities. The nonprofit helped cast autistic actors on the Netflix series “Atypical,” for example, and was recently featured in the HBO documentary, “Autism: The Sequel.” While the Miracle Project’s classes are typically offered in-person, everything is currently available online, including group classes and private lessons in the performing arts.

To learn more, visit the Miracle Project’s website.

3. Music Classes

A Message from Our CEO: Announcing Music Together Online

Like all of you, we're looking for ways to stay connected during this challenging time, and to help families continue to connect through music, we're launching Music Together Online. Now, for the first time, families can take classes from the Music Together teachers they love and become part of a musical community, all without leaving home! Here’s a special message from Music Together Worldwide CEO, Susan Darrow.

Posted by Music Together on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Music has many benefits for kids of all ages, so get your little ones involved in one of Music Together’s virtual classes, full of singing and play. You can search for a local center to find an online class near you, and then prepare to get the whole family involved in the music-making fun with household objects for accompaniment. Music Together recommends kids with disabilities will have the best experience in a mixed-age class, which includes infants to kids age 5.

To learn more, visit Music Together’s website.

4. Hometown Stomping Ground

Take a look at this summer schedule: science, baking, Dungeons & Dragons, drawing, “Harry Potter” adventure, newspaper, creative writing… Who wouldn’t want to participate? Hometown Stomping Ground is the product of a New York-based summer camp’s pivot to online to keep kids safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. You register once for all of the program’s options, and admission is based on a sliding scale (the camp runs on donations). Everyone is welcome, and Hometown Stomping Ground’s friendly staff are available to answer any questions you may have.

To learn more, visit Hometown Stomping Ground’s website.

5. Photography Camp

Want to spend the summer honing your photography skills? Kids with disabilities may love taking photos as a way to express their creativity and artistic skills. Atwater Photo Workshops, which is based in Los Angeles, is now offering its summer camp for kids completely online. Kids will learn the basics of good photography in three sessions throughout the day. Camp runs for five days at a time, and each day has a different theme. Weekly camps will begin June 15, and they’re open to kids between the ages of 8 and 16 years old.

To learn more, visit Atwater Photo Workshops’ website.

6. Dance Classes

COVID-19 doesn’t have to dampen your kid’s groove! Segerstrom Center’s fully inclusive School of Dance and Music for Children with Disabilities has shifted all of its classes online for the time being. Kids between the ages of 4 and 22 years will learn dance and musical concepts accompanied by live music. All the dance moves can be adapted and tailored to the needs of each student, and every class includes building imagination, dance, music, joy and social connection.

To learn more, visit the school’s website.

7. Reading Skills

Maybe your child’s speed is a little quieter, and they want to spend the summer exploring new worlds through reading. Headsprout offers a great platform — which is free through the end of the school year — to help build reading skills. Through a series of interactive episodes that can be adapted to the needs of any reader, students build their vocabulary, pronunciation and reading comprehension online. Not to mention, it’s fun with cool characters.

To learn more, visit Headsprout’s website.

What other online activities have you found that your kids with disabilities love? Let us know in the comments below.

Header image via Exceptional Minds’ Instagram

Originally published: May 13, 2020
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