STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) — Developmentally disabled children and their families have a chance to find respite with a program that’s now in its second year.

The Jefferson County Department of Development Disabilities, in cooperation with the ENGAGE program, has provided a program at the School of Bright Promise to help families get an opportunity to relax and complete errands knowing their child is enjoying some recreational time in a safe environment.

Summer sessions run until August 11 and are held each Thursday at the Jeffco Center in JCBDD’s administrative building while the school undergoes some improvement projects.

Children ages 3-9 participate from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with youth ages 10-17 on hand from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Kids can take part in stations with crafts, sensory experiences, water play, motor activities, and more while a snack is provided.

It is overseen by school staff who have CPR certification and are professionally trained to work with autistic and special needs children, plus they follow all guidelines set by the JCBDD and Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD).

A lack of such services prompted the program’s formation and kindergarten teacher Amber Ankrom worked with the JCBDD.

Officials then coordinated efforts with ENGAGE, a program operated through the Jefferson County Family and Children First Council, which provided funding to bring it to fruition.

Sessions have been held throughout the year, except for the winter months because of weather conditions.

Tammy Cain, JCBDD family liaison, said about 25 kids take part but some have not always been able to attend due to the surge in gas prices.

Those who do participate can have some fun while their parents have free time to tackle errands and other opportunities.

“We have stations of activities with kinetic sand, Tic Tac Toe, swimming, sprinklers, swings, painting, and snacks plus mini train rides,” Cain added. “When school’s in, a majority of our school staff helps and we have services every other Saturday, then it’s weekly all summer. We have School of Bright Promise teachers and aides and one Franciscan University student is assisting. We’re excited about that because we want them to hopefully become teachers here at the school.” 

She said the number of children participating already has doubled, so the program is gaining momentum.

“We do take individuals with behaviors and preschoolers. If somebody needs a little more attention, we have a great staff.” 

Cain commented that 10 spots are available per session and must be reserved.

For more information, contact her at (740) 264-5812, Extension 2119.