Each summer, HCRS provides therapeutic summer programs for children in the Hartford, Springfield, Bellows Falls, and Brattleboro area communities. These summer programs serve area youth, ages 6 to 14, who may not have access to other community summer programs or camps due to financial or behavioral issues.
This year, 176 kids took part in HCRS’ summer programs which consist of two 3-week sessions in each area. Activities at each program vary depending on the needs of the participants. One-on-one support is provided, when needed, to help these youth develop appropriate social skills and learn how to manage their emotions and impulses. Staff also work with children and youth to address a variety of social/emotional skills such as self-esteem and self-awareness, communication, problem-solving, anger management, conflict resolution, and maintaining appropriate boundaries. Mornings are generally spent developing these skills while afternoons are spent on activities where the kids can put those skills into practice.
In addition to the traditional recreational activities of the summer programs (crafts, games, museum trips, etc.), the Springfield program’s participants took part in community outreach activities. These children purchased food items and delivered them to the local food shelf, they painted flower pots, filled them with flowers, and delivered them to nursing home residents, and they purchased supplies and wrote letters for care packages for soldiers in Afghanistan.
Another highlight of the Summer Therapeutic Program was the variety show put on by the youth at the end of each session in Brattleboro. After planning and preparing for the show for several weeks, they were very excited to perform their various routines including dancing, singing, comedy acts, acrobatics, and more.
An additional summer program run out of HCRS’ Springfield office, in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Employment and Training, offers a summer job for youth ages 16 to 19 who need assistance in learning work ethics.
HCRS provides two supervisors who transport the teens to the scheduled worksites. The worksites include State Parks and local area Recreation Departments. This year, six participants painted dugouts and snowplows, worked on a skateboard park, stacked wood, and cleaned trails.
The program runs for six weeks. If the teens stay on task, they receive the minimum pay wage each week through the State. Participants learn work ethics, problem-solving skills, and conflict resolution skills.