Youth and Family Disability Resources: May 2014

Spring has finally sprung! Now that the weather is finally nice and everybody is breaking out their shorts and flip-flops, it’s time to make some outdoor plans for a little fun in the sun! This month’s resources focus mostly on outdoor activities and events to kick off the summer, along with a resource for Mental Health Month and an opportunity to get involved with the government.

Memorial Day Open House at the MFA

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is inviting families to visit the museum for an activity-filled Memorial Day! This family-friendly (and free!) open house has something for everyone. Dance along to Latin American music, enjoy Technicolor musicals presented by our film program, or participate in family art-making activities. Check out the list of events and programs happening from 10am-4:45pm on the MFA website.

Out of the Park

The Highland Street Foundation, in partnership with the Boston Red Sox and the City of Boston, is launching a new program called Out of the Park. Three times this season they will be showing a Red Sox away game at a public park in Boston while recreating the excitement of Yawkey Way and Fenway Park for the community! The events will take place on Sunday, May 25 at the Ramsay Park in Roxbury, Sunday, June 22 at the Franklin Park in Dorchester, and Sunday, July 27 at the Boston Common.

Mental Health America Resources

In honor of National Mental Health Month, Mental Health America has created several tools and resources to helps individuals, families, and organizations take positive actions to protect mental health and promote whole wealth. From a calendar of daily tips to stay positive and happy, to quick online screenings of four common conditions for individuals, Mental Health America has provided everything you need to make the month of May a positive time to build public recognition about the importance of mental health!

Governor’s Statewide Youth Counsel

Governor Deval Patrick created the Governor’s Statewide Youth Council to incorporate youth voices into the policy-making process.  The Youth Council serves as a critical resource in advising the Governor in making decisions and setting policy to improve the lives of young people throughout the Commonwealth. The Governor’s Office will be selecting 28 new Youth Council members to serve for two years and represent Massachusetts’ 14 counties, two Council members per county.  Applicants should be passionate, motivated and emerging leaders between the ages of 14 and 20. The application deadline is May 29.

Adaptive Recreation Fair

On Saturday, May 31, the DCR Universal Access Program is holding a FREE adaptive rec fair at Artesani Park in Brighton from 10am-3pm. At this fair, you’ll be able to participate in variety of fun adaptive activities like biking, hiking, kite decorating, and power soccer demonstrations! It will feature cool equipment and local organizations like PYD! We hope to see you there! Check out the DCR Facebook page or call (617) 626-1294 for more details!

BCYF Summer Guide 2014

Looking for something fun to do this summer? Well, look no further! The Boston Center for Youth and Families has created a jam-packed guide with summer events happening in all the Boston neighborhoods. In the guide you can find something for everyone,  whether it’s a traditional summer day camp or a sports league, a new rock climbing instruction program or educational offering – it’s all there! So, grab your calendar and start making plans so that this summer is filled with adventure and fun!

 

Dear Parents, You Inspire Us

PYD participant with her mother

One of my favorite parts of working for Partners for Youth with Disabilities has been getting a chance to see the wide variety of PYD’s programs in action. I’ve attended performances by Access to Theatre participants, sat in on Making Healthy Connections youth group sessions, watched our Young Entrepreneurs Project teachers in action, and experienced first-hand the joy that comes from being a mentor in our Mentor Match program. While each program is unique, I’ve seen the same end results across the board: kids that stand a little taller, speak a little more confidently, and leave with a smile on their face.

But hands down, the most incredible moments that I’ve witnessed at PYD have come during MHC’s Parent Group meetings. Meeting at the same time as our MHC youth program, the Parent Group offers a supportive environment for parents to freely share their experiences, vent their frustrations, celebrate their victories, and learn about new resources that they wouldn’t otherwise have heard about.

At the recent meeting I attended, a parent named Carol started by sharing with the group how she and her husband had finally, after years of advocating, gotten their son Alex a spot in a transition program at a farm in New York. This had always been Alex’s goal for himself – “I want to work with animals on a farm,” he has often said – and by embracing Alex’s vision, they finally feel at peace and excited for the future.

As Carol explained – and I’m paraphrasing here, “It’s tough, because for a long time, you won’t admit it to yourself, but you’re in mourning for the child you might have had. You keep comparing your child to what you thought they ought or should be doing, and you force these expectations onto them. But once we made the transition to, ‘This is who Alex is, and this is what he wants to do with his life,’ it’s been such an empowering and liberating feeling for our entire family.”

As heads nodded around the room, one by one other parents spoke up to express the same sentiment –and how the Parent Group had been key in helping them make that mental transition.

There’s no way to say it without sounding cliché: these parents inspire me. I’ve left the Parent Group meetings in awe of everything about them. How they have remained so positive in the face of frustrating struggles with schools, government agencies, and service providers. How they can share so freely of themselves with me and the others in the group. How supportive they are of one another, willing to dive in without second thought to help another parent or family despite their own personal challenges. And how they so fiercely believe and advocate for their child’s ability to determine their own definition of success and happiness.