“A Space to Be”
Extreme Kids and Crew is a nonprofit organization that gives children a place to express their creativity and be themselves.
I remember volunteering with my church at an event for mothers-to-be. While the mothers of my church worked with those who came to the event, I sat with the kids. I remember being extremely overwhelmed. Not only was I responsible for keeping the kids entertained; I also had to keep them quiet while the rest of the women worked. I did not think it was going to be so difficult. I was wrong.
Through activities, conversation, and play, Extreme Kids aims to create a space for kids with disabilities to express themselves and their creativity in any way they see fit. The focus is not on their disabilities but on encouraging kids to communicate and play like any other kid would, without restrictions. The playful, engaging activities are designed with care as “a space to be” that helps children develop social-emotional skills.
Like me, I’m sure you can imagine what a challenge this is, especially due to the pandemic and social distancing concerns.
I am amazed at how everyone has adjusted to this new medium, and how staff are able to keep the kids participating and entertained.
Extreme Kids makes sure that even those who are nonverbal are able to actively participate. At other after school programs, nonverbal children could potentially be ignored. At Extreme Kids & Crew, the staff make a tremendous effort to make every participant feel welcomed and heard, regardless of whether or not they choose to physically speak.
In an interview with Diana Baron-Moore, Head Teacher, she says that “students who do not speak aren’t an issue, quite far from it.” Rather, Baron-Moore says that non-speaking participants are encouraged to be even more creative in how they communicate their ideas and emotions, whether this be through an electronic speaking device, visual art that they’ve made, or just typing it out into the chat box during the Zoom call.
The atmosphere during Extreme Kids events is one of encouragement and creativity. Baron-Moore says that “When kids feel like they’re really using all of their energy to ‘behave appropriately’...they don’t have the full range of their skills and capabilities available to them.” However, when they’re placed into a space where they’re not afraid they’re going to be scrutinized, “they become bigger, they take up more space in the room, they share more of themselves.” This is something that I wish was found in more programs. Extreme Kids goes far beyond just keeping kids entertained for an hour. They truly make every single child feel free to be themselves.
Visit Extreme Kids and Crew to learn more about the amazing job they do providing children with disabilities and their families a space to be. Their recent SEED Impact report shows the outstanding social-emotional development achieved in the 2020 Virtual Summer Camp.
Zoë Medley, age 15, began volunteering with SEED Impact in 2020. She connects with SEED Impact’s client-partners, and enjoys writing as a way of drawing more attention to their passion, vision, goals, challenges, tremendous hard work, and life-giving outcomes.