PROJECT DATES: April 12th to August 28th, 2015
After months of screening children, recruiting teen volunteers, and several days of pre-training, Therapy and Fun opened on June 23rd with 28 children, 11 paid staff, and 33 teen volunteers. Children ranged from three to fourteen years old. The program ran three mornings a week for eight weeks last summer.
Here is a sample of the hundreds of goals our children accomplished:
- Keziah will untie shoes and unfasten medium sized buttons.
- During cleanup, Victoria will follow two and three-step directions when given a verbal and/or visual prompt.
- Austin will improve fine motor integration skills by replicating/drawing selected shapes during his occupational therapy sessions.
- Neveah will maintain a topic of conversation for 4-5 turns about a topic chosen by the therapist or a peer in two out of three opportunities during three consecutive therapy sessions.
- Damien will keep his feet on the tricycle pedals for ten feet while moving forward with physical, visual, and verbal cues.
- Benjamin will describe a picture or item that he is unable to see using three to five word utterances with verbal prompts.
WAS THE PROGRAM SUCCESSFUL?
Yes! We were able to both observe and measure growth in critical areas of our children’s speech-language, sensory processing, and fine and gross motor skills. We assessed our program through reports from therapists and evaluations from parents, visitors, and volunteers.
Parents rated Therapy and Fun 4.6 on a 5-point scale, and said that their child would rate their experience at 4.7. Here’s what one parent had to say about her son: “I absolutely love Therapy and Fun! I cry every year when it ends. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I hope every single volunteer/staff member knows how big of a positive impact they have on my family.” When asked, 94% of the parents answered, “Yes, I would recommend Therapy and Fun to other parents.”
WHAT WERE THE PROGRAM GOALS AND WERE THEY ACHIEVED?
Primary Goal: To build the capacity for children and their families.
1. We target an underserved population of children with increasing needs and decreasing resources.
During our 34th summer clinic, we worked with children who had diagnoses that included autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, Down syndrome, sensory disorders, and speech delays. Several children had multiple disorders.
|Acquired/Traumatic Brain Injury||3%|
|Autism Spectrum Disorder||32%|
|Development Disabilities/Genetic Disorders||61%|
|Heard of Hearing/Deaf||3%|
Most of the families we served this summer (64%) were below the poverty level. Our average family size was four, and the average income was $34,000. 89% of our families qualified for and received financial assistance from our scholarship fund, which you helped build. Thank you!
2. We sought to increase the enrollment in Therapy and Fun by five children.
Enrollment this year was 28 compared to 19 in 2014, so we exceeded this goal by almost 200%. This was fantastic news for us and the community, though we still had to turn away many clients who needed financial assistance because our scholarship funds ran out fast.
3. We sought to achieve 75% of our children’s learning objectives during 21 days of treatment.
This summer, we worked hard and stayed focused, so met 89% of them.
4. We empowered parents to advocate for their children.
We hosted seven workshops for families lead by experts in their fields. Topics included acupressure/acupuncture for children with disabilities, new issues in special education, utilizing other local nonprofits who serve special needs families, car seat safety, fun sensory crafts to do at home, encouraging literacy and language development with everyday activities, and managing behavior and family issues.
Secondary Goal: To build and train community stewards among our teen therapy aides.
5. We sought to recruit 15 new and retain 60% middle and high school volunteers.
We trained 8 new therapy aides this year who joined 25 veteran teen volunteers. We beat our retention goal: 76% of our 2014 volunteers returned in 2015. Because of this, we only needed to recruit a handful of new teens. All of them interacted playfully with and guided our young clients’ goal practice.
6. We provided training to volunteers.
Teens received more than 40 hours of training. They learned therapy techniques and leadership skills during pre-service workshops and at daily meetings. Teens contributed 1,824 hours of service.
7. We encouraged volunteers to consider health and social service professions.
In post-program surveys a quarter of volunteers named health or human services professions as their choice to study in college, with 34% saying that volunteering helped influence their career choice.
8. We vetted volunteers so that at least 80% would have successful job performance evaluations.
Not only had 76% of our volunteers been with us for at least one previous summer, our new volunteers learned quickly and worked hard. Because of this, 95% our volunteers had successful job performance evaluations.
WHAT DID THE VOLUNTEERS THINK?
At both the beginning of the summer and again at the end, we ask our volunteers to fill out a survey on their expectations and experiences with Therapy and Fun. Some of the comments included:
“It gave me some insight on the careers of speech pathology and occupational therapy. Also I loved meeting the kids.”
“I just love working/playing with the clients and knowing it’s helping them. “
“Helping the children always brings a smile to my face.”
“I am excited to come back next year!”