C.O.R.E. Skills Camp Promotes Summertime Learning

With more than 46,000 special education students in Dallas County, the demand for innovative and impactful life skills programs has increased as educational systems have evolved. 

By providing critical instruction and opportunities for enrichment to propel students toward paths of success, these programs have improved the lives of intellectually diverse individuals by a substantial margin. 

One Dallas-based nonprofit, in particular, has been instrumental in bridging the gap between ability and accomplishment.

Ability Connection is on a mission to enrich the lives of those with disabilities, one person at a time. The agency provides a range of special education services, including occupational therapy, employment services, and public education, to more than 900 children and adults.

This summer, Ability Connection will expand its offerings again by conducting summer programming through its C.O.R.E. Skills Camp (communication, organization, responsibility, and empathy). These single-day camp sessions serve as “the ultimate summer tune-up” for kids between the ages of 10 and 17 who may benefit from added assistance in communication, socialization, and general life skills.

“It is imperative that teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the opportunity to sharpen their skills over the summer,” Ability Connection CEO Jim Hanophy said. “With C.O.R.E., students are exposed to experiences that promote independent living and an array of critical skills, including time management, meal prep, and the importance of creating a routine to encourage responsibility.”

This year, the camp is partnering with a sensory-based skill-building organization, It’s a Sensory World!, to introduce an all-new Sensory Bus experience. Individuals of all skill levels will engage with sensory-based programs to maximize the impact of C.O.R.E. Skills Camp.

“By meeting the sensory needs of our students, The Sensory Bus helps to regulate emotions and reset behavior so that the kids have more focus and longer attention spans for the life skills lessons that follow,” said Meghan Payes, Ability Connection director of learning. “It’s incredibly helpful because we’re seeing them grasp the material so much more than they would be if they just came straight to the table to work with me.”

With more resources, Payes is optimistic about this summer, the program, and what it will mean for local students.

“Especially for kids who are used to being at school August through May, the summer can be really tough because it gets them out of their routines,” Payes said. “So, this program has been really effective by working with those kids and providing extra resources and support for daycare workers and counselors. It’s always needed a little more in this community during the summer.”

In addition to its weekly Friday class within the summer camp curricula at It’s a Sensory World!, C.O.R.E. will offer Learning Labs in two Dallas County locations on July 22 at The Potter’s House and July 29 at Ability Connection. For Dallas kids with learning differences, it sounds like a successful summer is shaping up.

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