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Caring Strategies Summer Camp encourages learning in an inclusive environment

DESTREHAN — The 2021 Caring Strategies Summer Camp has given children with and without disabilities the opportunity to explore and play together in an inclusive environment.

Caring Strategies is a 501c3 non-profit with a mission to provide learning opportunities that support all members of the community. The organization focuses on creating educational programs and environments to facilitate active engagement and learning, whether a child is at home, in a classroom or in the community.

The six-week camp started the week of June 14 and will wrap up on July 21 with a Family Fun Day in the park. Held at Ethel Schoeffner Elementary School in Destrehan, this year’s camp was made possible with funding from United Way of St. Charles, St. Charles Women’s Club, Sweet Tooth Dental and Keith Davis State Farm.

Twenty-five children ranging in age from 3 to 7 have enjoyed the “Fun in the Sun” theme while participating in hands-on activities to build language and social skills. Activities have included circle time, arts and crafts, outside play and fun-filled exercise with the Tumble Bus instructor. Participating in these games and crafts helped children learn about the beach and the ocean.

Children participated in sensory learning relating to this theme, and LSU Health Sciences came on-site to help the children work on speech development.

Director Sandra O’Brien, DT, CHC has decades of experience in elementary and special education. Her experience and certifications include autism assessment, art therapy, health coaching and serving as a milestones specialist.

“I’ve always been passionate about working with kids, especially kids with disabilities. I was a special ed preschool teacher, and I retired from that after 32 years. I just wanted to keep working with the kids, and I know the needs for kids with behavioral and sensory issues,” O’Brien said.

Caring Strategies predominantly serves children in St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes, though families from surrounding areas are welcome to take advantage of the services.

The nonprofit organization also hosts play groups for children ages 2-3, typically every other Monday at the Wee Care Center inside of First Baptist Church in LaPlace. According to O’Brien, these play groups help toddlers build social skills while working on sensory-focused activities.

Caring Strategies’ vision for 2021-2022 is to support children with developmental concerns, behaviors and disabilities. Services include assessments, providing training for teachers and family members, and providing strategies for the creation of educational programs and environments.

Follow-ups/ mid-year monitoring is offered, and Caring Strategies also offers developmental milestone guidebooks for parents and teachers of young children.

For more information, email caringstrategies@aol.com or call O’Brien at 504-722-3636.