Q&A: 18 Recommended Winter Resources & Activities for Families with Special Needs in Western MA

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

Jean Engle of North Adams writes, “Once the colder weather sets in, where are the best places to visit and socialize for parents and children with special needs? Are there any specialized activities?”

Holyoke High School’s Adaptive Physical Education Program is an inspiration!  Here’s a video of the program they held at Fitzpatrick Ice Arena to inspire other schools and communities to model a similar program in their area:

  • Kara Kitchen writes, “There are several free programs for special needs children (ages 6 months+) throughout the year at the Dalton Community Recreation Association.  Late fall and winter is the start of the Splash program-swimming and other fun/learning activities… there’s a family swim from 11am-noon on Monday (small fee for non-members but so worth it-warmest pool in the Berkshires).”
  • Lisa Levheim writes, “It’s a little far from North Adams, but Whole Children in Hadley is amazing! They have after school programs and daytime programs for homeschoolers and younger kids.”
  • Swansea Benham Bleicher writes, “Most family centers will welcome children with special needs. Contact the Coordinators ahead of time if you are concerned: Northampton Parents Center, Easthampton Family Center, Belchertown Family Center, Amherst Family Center, Cummington Family Center, Gateway Family Center, South Hadley Family Center, Ware Family Center…”
  • Matt Sawyer writes,Ski Butternut offers skiing and snowboarding adaptive programs for people with special needs.”
  • Laura Lucchesi writes, “Special needs or not, the Holyoke Children’s Museum was a favorite when my kids where young… Don’t forget children’s bowling… great activity and cheap.  If you call ahead they put bumpers in the lanes so kids won’t get gutter balls!”
  • Karen Foster writes, “The DCR Universal Access Program partners with All Out Adventures during the winter to offer free outdoor recreation (snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice and sled skating) in state parks to people of all ages with disabilities.”
  • Jean Engel responds, “I’m going to share one that we like and make a comment for more ideas: The New York State Museum in Albany has an indoor Merry Go Round on the top floor…with glass windows all around and benches for parents and grandparents. The splash-park at Look Park (Florence) is our all time favorite. I wish someone would build an indoor one that could be running year round.
  • Sienna Wildfield writes, ” Jean, while not in Western MA, there are a couple of indoor water parks within driving distance (CT & MA).  Closer to home in south Berkshire County, the Spectrum Playhouse in Lee has indoor performances for families.  If you’re not familiar with Spectrum Playhouse, they have a multi-purpose performance space where they host concerts and performing artists, as well as theatre productions, visual art and lectures.  Their mission is to encourage and develop artistic talents of young adults on the Autism Spectrum and with learning differences. To find out about upcoming events there check Berkshire Family Fun, Hilltown Families bi-weekly column, for events announcements, or visit their web site at bvpac.org/spectrum-playhouse.”

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