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Area nonprofits provide summer opportunities to children with, without disabilities

DESTREHAN — While looking for summer activities for 22-month-old son Luke, Whitney Bourg of LaPlace sought out programs with an emphasis on physical and social development.

For nearly two years, Luke has received early intervention services for motor skills and speech through Louisiana Early Steps, a program for infants and toddlers identified as having developmental delays.

This month, Luke will attend a summer camp hosted by Caring Strategies, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing learning opportunities to children ages 0 to 5 with and without disabilities.

Hosted on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 12-21 and July 17-26 at United Methodist Church in Destrehan, the Caring Strategies summer mini-camp provides themed, hands-on activities and services from licensed occupational, speech and physical therapists.

“I think it’s a great way for him to do therapy in a summer camp environment and have friends to play with,” Bourg said. “He’s never been in a day care environment, and I believe kids learn from other kids.”

According to director Sandra O’Brien, registration for the June session has closed, but River Region residents are invited to sign up for next month’s session prior to July 1.

St. John Office of Fire Services representative Travis Ettie teaches children how to stop, drop and roll.

Camp registration is $125 per session. For more information, call O’Brien at 504-722-3636.

Among the 10 children registered for the June session, there’s an even split between those with and without developmental delays.

Bringing children together in spite of difference in age or physical abilities allows for greater learning opportunities, according to O’Brien.

“A lot of parents of kids with disabilities feel like there’s not much available to them,” O’Brien said.

“We want to let them know that this camp is open to all children.”

Children interact in groups and receive one-on-one instruction time, according to O’Brien. Therapy services are available for those in need.

The group will explore activities centered around farms, gardens and the beach with an emphasis on literacy.

Sensory play is another important component of childhood development, according to O’Brien, who said children will create animals with play dough, enjoy snacks related to weekly themes and partake in outdoor and water activities.

Previously held at First Baptist Church in LaPlace, the annual summer mini camp has seen volunteer involvement from various St. John the Baptist Parish groups.

A separate LaPlace early intervention summer group called Cribs to Classrooms is hosting a pre-kindergarten back to school playgroup from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays July 17-26.

Daily activities consist of literacy, music, movement, sensory activities, snack and free play.

For more information, visit @cribstoclassrooms on Facebook.