By Jamie Elliott
Yes, it’s true, the 2012 summer recreation season is officially over, but when you work for the city of Davis in the Recreation Division, like I have the pleasure of doing, it’s almost impossible to get away from thinking about summer: You are either evaluating the one behind you or planning for the one ahead of you. Summer and recreation, they go hand in hand.
My name is Jamie Elliott and I am the program coordinator of recreational services and support for citizens with disabilities. It’s a mouthful, to be sure, so most people refer to me as the Alternative Recreation coordinator, or Alt Rec for short.
Cities around the nation use different words: special rec, adaptive rec, adaptive leisure, but I like our version because it truly embraces what the city of Davis does: It provides traditional recreational experiences for teens and adults with developmental disabilities and facilitates support services for individuals with disabilities to ensure participation in any recreation program and class we offer. Our motto here is: Recreation for All! And we put energy and resources toward making this a reality for all who come our way.
Just like all the other summer recreation staff, the Alt Re/Inclusive Rec leaders were busy this summer. The summer camp season may officially start after school gets out in June but everyone knows it takes months of prep work to be prepared for hundreds of kids pounding the parks.
Alt Rec was in the thick of that, too: Play for folks with special needs rarely just happens. There is a good amount of planning and preparation necessary to ensure successful play.
Within the 10 weeks of the summer camp season, we supported 13 children with disabilities who participated in a whole slew of summer programs, including activities like swim lessons, Summer Quest, Rainbow Summer, Kids in the Kitchen, Fencing Camp and Skyhawks, just to name a few.
One-on-one support provided to these campers meant they had the summer pleasure of playing with friends and broadening their skills. In addition, we served 36 teens and adults with disabilities who attended our Friday night Teens Nite Out program or went on weekend community outings, including baseball games, the movies and local fairs. My 15 staff members pretty much were serving the social and recreational needs of children, teens and adults for 69 straight days. Whew! That’s more than 3,000 hours of fun!
And isn’t that what the summer is all about? Hanging out with friends, being out of school, having good times outdoors, hitting the pool as often as you can? Now that’s the life, and if you have a disability, this life is for you. Come to the Recreation Division and get hooked with living the good life.
Not that we’re kicking back just because it’s fall. Nope, Alt Rec is year-round. This weekend, the staff are taking eight Alt Rec adults to Lake Tahoe, to celebrate fall with friends. And next weekend we’re off to San Francisco to watch the naval fleet sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Three children are taking gymnastic classes and the teens are itching to take on the latest Wii game. Oh, yeah, and summer 2013 is only eight months away. Did I mention I love my job?
— Jamie Elliott is a community services coordinator with the city of Davis.