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What would you look for in a day camp for your child? You might consider an outdoor environment where your child could run and play, swim, create arts and crafts, make new friends, try new activities with enthusiastic counselors, and return home at the end of the day with smiles and stories. If you have a child with special needs, you look for these same experiences with an added dimension of care and attention that is unique for your child.

Adam, now nine years old, has been coming to the Achievement Centers for Children Camp Cheerful each summer for the past four years, and still flaps his arms in excited anticipation as they drive across the bridge leading into camp. Adam loves to swim and canoe, and just be outside in the fresh air at camp. Here Adam has counselors that understand his special needs, build upon his unique abilities, and guide him through a structured day of fun activities while allowing for the quiet afternoon rest time that he needs. This year, his mother is looking forward to sending Adam to camp with his new iPad and a speech program that will allow Adam to more easily communicate his wants and needs.

“I have complete trust in the staff; they are amazing. We’ve become personal friends with several of his past counselors. I know he’s in good hands when we drop him off in the morning, and there is always someone looking out for my little guy,” said Adam’s mother, Kim Hawkins.

Camp Cheerful has meant so much more to Adam and his family than just his summer day camp experiences. He has also been in therapeutic horseback riding lessons for the past four years, and last year played adapted football. His mother has seen Adam’s balance, strength, posture, and speech improve as a result of his weekly horseback riding lessons. Each week, his volunteers encourage him to try to say the command “walk on” to his horse. To Adam’s delight, his horse understands and responds obediently. This immediate response is very important for reinforcement as he works on developing his speech. In our Cleveland Browns Adapted football program, Adam experienced the thrill of running down the field with his volunteer at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility in Berea with his family and friends cheering him on.

If you have a child with special needs, you want the same experiences and opportunities for your child as their peers. This is what we offer – and more – for children and adults with disabilities at the Achievement Centers for Children.

"I have complete trust in the staff, they are amazing"

Kim Hawkins, Adam's mother
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