Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation (CCPR) is located in Carmel, Indiana, with many of its programs facilitated at the Monon Community Center. As the recreation therapist in our facility, I develop and implement a variety of recreation programs that are modified and adapted to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in my community. I offer the basic sports, fitness, art, and culture programs, but I wanted to offer something more to my participants and their families. I wanted to offer families a Friday night out.
I saw the need for parents and caregivers to have a break and re-energize. So I wanted to create an opportunity for them to go out one night a month without their child. Therefore I started respite-type programs for all ages. CCPR offers Parents Night Out for ages 2-12, Teen Night Out for ages 13-17, and Fantastic Fridays for ages 18 and up. Each program occurs once a month for three to four hours on Friday evenings. During these programs, participants can participate in swimming, gym games, social board games, arts and crafts, karaoke, and much more. Pizza, snacks, and refreshments are always provided.
For each of these programs, participants pay a fee which covers the staff cost, supplies, and food for the evening. Teen Night Out is an exception because I collaborate on this program with Easter Seals Crossroads. Easter Seals Crossroads received a grant for respite care for the teenage population. This grant covers all of the costs required to run the program, along with parent care packages. Each parent is eligible every other month for a gift card for items at various locations. These could include movie tickets, tickets to a live show, a gift card for a local restaurant, and much more. This allows the parents to go out during that time and have a free night of adult interaction and relaxation--all while knowing their child is safe with qualified staff and having a blast at the center!
These programs have been very successful and fill up each month. It tells me how essential this service is to the community and to the families that participate in them. One parent states, “I wanted to let you know that we are so pleased with the amazing program that you run! The staff was so professional and the kids seemed to be having a great time. It was very clear to us that the teens were excited to be there! The Parent Package was amazing! We enjoyed the most wonderful meal at Cooper's Hawk! It was just the 'recharge' that we needed to help get us through a long winter! We can't rave enough!! A true gift for us...many thanks!! The Monon Community Center is beautiful, you and your staff are amazing, and the relationship with Crossroads is a true gift to the kids and parents!!”
As you can see, this is a great program and opportunity for our community, and I would like to see more of these types of programs offered around the state and nation. It’s an easy program to facilitate and implement, but the benefits are priceless to the families and participants.
-Brooke Taflinger, CTRS, is Inclusion Supervisor at Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation Monon Community Center, Carmel, Indiana.