Families Clamor for Family Circle

Luke and a staffer enjoy Family Circle’s
Sunday “Swim and Sing” program 

Families who care for children with disabilities at home have expressed heartfelt appreciation for H.A.L.O.’s Family Circle “Swim and Sing” respite program.

They say they have to look far and wide to find social activities for their children.

Our three hour of activities on Sundays provides socialization, physical movement and just enough time for parents to take a break from responsibilities. The program is offered in Newton, Massachusetts and will open in Stoughton, MA soon.

“It’s perfect for Alex because she loves music and the only sports activity she is capable of is swimming,” says Michele, whose daughter Alexandra was born with a brain disorder and had a hemispherectomy to correct seizure problems. They have been participating since 2007, coming straight from Sunday Mass to the pool, she said.

“The program is unique because it is offered consistently, the staff is excellent, and there just aren’t many activities for disabled children as they get older,” said Michele. “I can’t say enough good things about it.”

When the family lived in Iowa, Michele said only one activity was available to Alex outside of school, and it was not a year round program. In New Jersey, the family was forced to choose between desperately needed home respite services or outside activities, so opportunities to interact with peers were limited.

Now 25, Alex goes to a day habilitation program during the week, and is on waiting lists for a few weekday activities offered in her community.

Alexandra, right, and Sarah. a staffer,
at a recent Family Circle program
Christine, mother of another program participant, agrees that finding programs for children with disabilities requires research, patience and persistence.

“Any parent will tell you that we will drive almost anywhere for an activity geared to our child’s abilities,” she said. The family lives in Milton, son Luke goes to school in Southborough, and she drives him to activities in Framingham and “wherever we need to go.”

The Sunday program at the Newton JCC is Luke’s preferred activity, according to Christine, who says he looks forward to it. He attends two to three times a month and would gladly go more, she said.

H.A.L.O.’s board of directors recently renewed its commitment to fund Family Circle activities for another five years. This means 18 families will benefit from recreational services at the Newton location over a 30-week schedule and at least 10 more families when the Sunday program resumes in Stoughton at the YMCA. Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Boston manages the programs.

For information contact Melissa Demir at 781-693-1344.