This morning, as I dropped off my youngest child in his last week of school for the summer, I had that familiar clutch of anxiety in my gut: summer is almost here. The moment is bittersweet since both boys have had so much fun this school year, but I know they are ready for and deserve a break. Summers are different when you have a special needs child because it can be tough to find activities that your child will enjoy.
This month, I wanted to highlight a handful of opportunities for you and your children, all of your children, to have fun together during this summer break.
Water Play at the Everybody Can Play Playground
Last year, my kids and I discovered the Everybody Can Play Playground at Brahan Spring Park in Huntsville and I am glad we did. We’ve enjoyed our time at the park so much that we had a birthday party there so we could take advantage of the water play area there. The playground has a water play side and a regular playground side; the water play area is set up for children with and without challenges to be able to play. The area is wide and flat with lots of different features and – bonus – is fenced in so you can let your wild ones run and play and get wet in all sorts of ways. I recommend water shoes for the kids and a chair (and perhaps some portable shade) for you since seating is limited.
The playground side is also accessible with wide ramps and slides and multiple climbing areas and swings. A large pavilion sits next to these two areas with a number of picnic tables; restrooms are located right there as well. A good-sized parking lot is right there as well. It is a great place to cool off on these hot Huntsville days.
Pump It Up
Pump It Up, located on Leeman Ferry Road in Huntsville, hosts a Sensory Jump from 6 – 8 pm every second Monday of the month for families with children affected by sensory issues. The facility will turn off the sound and lower the lights to help avoid sensory overload while still enjoy the fun of jumping around on their inflatables. We take our boys to Pump It Up on a regular basis and they have a blast there.
My favorite part of Pump It Up is that the inflatables area is contained so you can let your kids run around without having to worry about them slipping out unnoticed. They have regular open jumps throughout the week during the summer months as well as themed jump times, like Parents’ Night Out. Regular admission is $8.50 per child, but check their website for discount days. Their website is www.pumpitupparty.com.
Sensory Friendly & Kids Movies
Carmike Cinemas Valley Bend 18, located on Four Mile Post Road, will host sensory friendly movies every fourth Saturday of the month. Each week, they’ll feature a family-friendly movie in a theatre with reduced volume and dimmed lights. These are great for families with children who might find it challenging to sit through a movie without getting up and moving around or being a little loud. The movies show at 10 am and are $5 per person.
Cinemark Monaco, located at Bridge Street, will show a different kid-friendly movie each week at 10 am Monday through Thursday. Each movie is $1 per ticket or $5 for the all ten. The movies chosen for this year’s Summer Movie Clubhouse include animated and live-action films, including titles like the Peanuts Movie, Home, and The Sandlot. The Monaco is minutes away from our home so I’ve already put these movies on our calendar. I hope you will do the same!
Camp Merrimack & Music Together
Camp Merrimack is the annual half-day performing arts camp for children with special needs. Children 3-7 have the morning session, from 9 am to 12 pm; children 8-12 go in the afternoons, 1 to 4 pm. The camp includes music, theatre, dance, and visual art. Tuition for the camp is minimal, but you will need to contact Merrimack Hall for more information about cost and other details. Camp Merrimack is July 14-18.
Music Together of Tennessee Valley is doing their Summer Fun Music Camp June 27th – July 1st at 10 am and 11 am. This is a mixed ages camp that costs $75 per child. We’ve done Music Together for several years and absolutely love it for both of my kids. You can find more information at their website, www.mttnv.com.
Just a Sample of the Fun
The activities I’ve highlighted above are a mere sliver of what’s around for you and your kids this summer. You can find more activities at Making Connections and their Summer Activity Guide or here at Rocket City Mom and our 2016 Summer Fun Guide. Let us know what your family does this summer, especially if you have special needs children. I would love to hear about the fun you guys have with the hot days ahead.
Happy Summer, everyone!
Jennifer Kelly grew up in the Birmingham area, but migrated to Huntsville for graduate school and put down roots after meeting her husband, Jamie. In addition to being a mom to her two boys, she is a tennis ninja, trivia nerd, freelance editor, and aspiring writer. You can visit her at The Sir Barton Project, a blog about her upcoming book.