American author Charles Bowden said of summer “summertime is always the best of what might be.”

Summertime should be when we take small breaks from everyday responsibilities and spend quality time enjoying hobbies, friends, nature or simple relaxation. Children should have the opportunity to play a little harder and work off the lethargy of winter and spring.

I have had the opportunity this summer to be more involved in the RISE summer program and observe firsthand what a difference it can make to children with disabilities to have activities to enjoy and friendships to build. There are many young children and adolescents, however, who do not have access to these types of programs.

Therefore, thanks to the Utah Parents Center, I would like to share some of the activities that they shared through their annual summer activities list. The entire list can be downloaded at http://utahparentcenter.org. Specific information on each activity including websites, contact information, dates and costs are available at this site.

Spanish Fork continues to offer their adaptable art classes. In these classes, students will get to make something to take home each day. This class is designed for special needs students. Art projects will be adapted so that each student will be successful.

Brigham Young University offers two programs. Athletic Connection connects BYU Student Athletes with individuals with Down syndrome to learn skills through fun games and activities. The program usually meets at the University Parkway Center. The second program, BYU Adapted Aquatics, offers swim programs that focus on cognitive development, along with motor and social skills through aquatics. Participants are matched one-on-one with volunteers.

CAST for Kids is designed to provide children with disabilities, ages 5 through 17, the opportunity to enjoy a quality outdoor recreational experience through the sport of fishing. Take to the water with CAST for an unforgettable morning of fishing and boating.

Courage Reins Therapeutic Riding Center has horseback riding lessons for all ages and abilities. Another opportunity to work with horses is Hoofbeats to Healing that provides therapeutic horseback riding, using an effective, natural approach to horseback riding therapy. They work with a variety of disabilities.

The Dance Club offers a free weekly dance class to those with both physical and cognitive disabilities. The classes help your little dancer to improve movement and rhythm. There is an open enrollment held from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturdays.

Lehi Adaptive Programs are designed and modified exclusively for patrons with disabilities of any age. Programs include: Zumba, volleyball, swimming, bowling and basketball.

Provo Recreation Adaptive Activities offers summer camp for special needs students. Camps include swimming, activities and a weekly field trip. They are also offering adaptive tennis this summer for children 8-17 with physical or cognitive disabilities. They have new sports wheelchairs that are available for use if needed. They also offer adaptive swimming groups, yoga, soccer, Special Olympics and more.

Recreation and Rehabilitation Services helps individuals with disabilities rise to new heights of personal achievement and development. All activities and programs are designed to meet the needs and enhance the lives of participants. They also have day-timers groups, bowling, dinners, swimming, social skills and special needs scouts. For ages 16 to adult.

Cycle Ability offers a special needs bike camp where kids with disabilities learn to ride a bike.

The Special Olympics offers summer games where individuals with disabilities can compete in a variety of sports, including cycling, track and field, soccer and softball.

SwimKids can tailor lessons specifically to your child’s needs and abilities with well trained, enthusiastic and caring instructors are eager to teach your child to swim.

Utah County Parks and Recreation Adapted Aquatics programs are provided year-round with swimming instruction for children with cognitive and physical disabilities.

The VIP Special Needs Sports League in Mapleton City is a unique organization that serves children and adult’s ages 5-22 who have any mental and/or physical disabilities. For the children involved, this program allows them the opportunity to participate in the great games of baseball, soccer and basketball that all their friends and siblings are doing without feeling left out.

A special thank you to the Utah Parents Center for providing a concise list of diverse activities available to assist individuals with disabilities learn to explore the best of what will be.

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