Family Circle ‘Social Network’ Is Growing

Family Circle ‘Social Network’ Is Growing
H.A.L.O.’s Family Circle programs are expanding in Massachusetts to address the tremendous need for therapeutic activities for children with neurological impairment.

The Sunday Swim and Sing in Newton, MA continues to serve 20 individuals ages 5-34 years on 30 Sundays a year.  A companion program has been provided in Stoughton (south of Boston) for the past three years, reducing the long commute for 10 individuals on 20 Sundays.  Both programs provide three hours of 1:1 attention in movement, music and the pool. They are professionally managed by Caitlin Bohara, program director at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS) of Greater Boston.

“Most importantly the programs provide opportunities for children with severe disabilities to enjoy their neighborhood community centers alongside other members of the community,” said Caitlin.

 “The families really appreciate that social opportunity for their children, because few activities are available for them outside of school.”

Staffers are assigned to a specific “buddy” and invest a lot of time learning how to help the mostly non-verbal, non-ambulatory individuals get the most out of the program. The time and effort needed to build those relationships limits how many individuals each program can serve, Caitlin said.

Because there are 64 individuals on the wait list, H.A.L.O.’s board recently voted to permanently fund of the Stoughton program and added a three-year trial of an additional program for 10 individuals in Newton.  H.A.L.O.’s support was instrumental in obtaining a grant for a Family Free Swim opportunity on 10 Sundays a year, also in Newton. The free swim allows five or six families to enjoy an activity organized to accommodate their child.

“It has become an important social network,” said Caitlin. “I notice the parents talking to each other, sharing resources and making plans to get together outside of the program.”

JF&CS also publishes H.A.L.O.’s Family Circle newsletter every other month to inform families about programs and resources for children with severe neurological impairment.
To learn more, email Caitlin at cbohara@jfcsboston.org or visit www.halo.org.