As a parent of a child with a disability, summertime can be a bit daunting. How will you fill 2-1/2 months of days and keep your child entertained and learning? Here are some of the activities available in this area.
Most libraries offer story time and summer reading programs during the months of June and July. Brazoria County Library System has an extensive calendar of events to enjoy. The Nacogdoches Library has many family friendly events like game nights & movies. They also have Teen Makerspace evenings where teens can create a variety of things, like Paintballs or electronics.
Sailing Angels Foundation in Kemah offers a unique sailing adventure for children with disabilities. This activity is free, but advance registration is required. Maisie, who is 5 years old and has Down syndrome, had an opportunity to take part in a sailing trip. During the boat ride, Maisie got to put on the Sailor's hat and steer the boat with some assistance. She absolutely loved it and wanted another turn at steering. Eleesha, Maisie’s mother, shared her thoughts on the adventure “It was so serene and tranquil being on the water and it seemed to have removed all the cares in the world...at least for that moment. I am looking forward to Maisie's next sailing trip and can't wait to see what new thing she will say or do to express her excitement for being on another sailing adventure!"
Another free activity is Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson. The Visitor Center is open every day except Mondays. The center has many different habitat aquariums. There is even a touch tank where children can see and touch crabs, snails & other marine life.
If your child enjoys trains, there are a couple of places you may want to visit. The Nacogdoches Railroad Depot is free and open Tuesday – Friday. In Galveston, there is the Railroad Museum which is open every day from 10-5. Children under age 13 are $5. They have a large collection of rail road cars kids can climb on. They also offer train rides.
Do fire trucks interest your child more? Stop by the free Fire Museum of Texas in Beaumont. They are open Monday – Friday from 8 am – 5 pm. In addition to having lots of fire trucks, they also have the world’s largest working fire hydrant. It was created by Disney for the re-release of “100 Dalmatians” before finding its way to the Fire Museum.
Families living in or near Jefferson County may want to visit the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Beaumont. This is a very accessible place. The entry fee is $5, and $2 for children ages 4-9. Children will love learning about science and nature. In the Children’s Garden, vegetables grow in raised rectangular beds. Children can touch and smell different plants in the Sensory Garden. They can look for various birds at the bird blind. They might even spot an alligator! The Nature Center offers EcoRangers summer camps for students in grades 1-9.
By visiting the Texas Association of Counties site, you can find recreation & attractions like the local libraries, parks and museums in your county. Don’t forget to check for events at Region 2, Piney Woods & Upper Gulf Coast for other events in your area. And under Navigating Daily Life, you will find Tips for Public Outings.
All parents play an important role as their child’s advocate. For parents of children with disabilities, this role may last a lifetime. Yet it is also about giving your child the support they need to make their own choices.
Summertime can seem very long when you have no plans for fun activities. But our area has lots of fun and free things to do if you just plan ahead.