For a change of pace, here are a few Philly-based recreation options that caregivers of intellectually disabled individuals should keep in mind.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Carousel House is dedicated to people with disabilities. Its year-round programming includes:
- Bingo parties
- Nature walks
- Arts & crafts
Carousel House, located at Belmont Avenue and Avenue of the Republic, gives people with disabilities a chance to socialize, learn, and play. This summer, Carousel House will offer a summer sports camp for people (ages 16+) with disabilities.
National Park Service’s Access Pass is a free lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. The pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges.
Explore National Park sites in the Greater Philadelphia area.
Team River Runner is a national nonprofit network that offers health and healing for disabled members of the community and others through therapeutic kayaking. The boats, gear, and instruction are free.
Instruction starts out with the basics in a calm river or heated, indoor pool. Team River Runner adapts the instructions to the needs of the individual with a goal of forming a supportive community that enjoys sharing a day of adventure out on the water.
Besides being a fun way to connect with nature and make new friends, kayaking offers people a chance to strengthen core muscles, improve flexibility and coordination, get excited, and clear their heads.
Creative Arts Therapy
The Kardon Center for Creative Arts Therapy at Settlement Music School offers music, art, and dance/movement therapy services to individuals with special needs at Settlement branches (Philly branches are at: 416 Queen St., 4910 Wynnefield Avenue, 3745 Clarendon Avenue, and 6128 Germantown Ave) and at other locations in our community.
Creative Arts Therapy is a form of non-verbal psychotherapy that uses the senses—specifically music, dance, and creative expression—to open new channels of communication between participants and their therapists, families, and communities. While goals for Creative Arts Therapy are tailored to each participant’s needs, benefits may include improved social skills, cognition, language, and physical skills. No previous training is needed to take part.
To learn about the specific offerings at the branches closest to you, contact Mark Bottos, Zausmer Program Director at the Kardon Center for Arts Therapy (Tel: 215.320.2625).
Avoid Sensory Overload
What counts as recreation varies by person. Those who experience sensory overload in many settings may prefer to drop in on a museum that offers special accommodations for them in Philly.
Some of the participating museums include:
- The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University offers Access to Science events when the museum is open to visitors on the autism spectrum. The next events will be July 14 and August 25. Pre-registration is required, but can be same-day.
- The Franklin Institute offers tools everyday for people who typically might find it a bit loud, crowded, and bright. Sensory alert maps help guide you through experiences that may involve high levels of sensory stimulation. Sensory backpacks stocked with noise-reducing headphones, sunglasses, fidgets, and weighted toys help reduce sensory stimulation while checking out the exhibits can be borrowed first-come first-served at information desks in the atrium and lobby. Plan your visit for weekday afternoons or evenings, which are less busy.
- The Please Touch Museum offers Play Without Boundaries days, when the museum offers a more relaxed environment for individuals with autism, learning differences, and other sensory or communication needs. Accommodations include:
- The museum is closed to the general public, so there are fewer visitors.
- Low-level lighting and a quieter experience.
- Tools to enhance your visit, include quiet zones
- The next Play Without Boundaries events will be July 7, August 4, Sept. 8, October 6, and November 3. Be sure to pre-register.