New programs provide powerful recreational benefits for those with special needs

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

Many people consider recreational programs indispensable for making friends, learning social skills, and building confidence and self-esteem. But, unfortunately, not everyone can participate in activities typically offered through recreational programs and sports leagues. 

Specifically, children and adults with special needs are often left out. 

The Parks & Recreation Department believes everyone should experience the compelling benefits of recreational programming, regardless of their physical or developmental challenges. Two new programs at the Southwood Community Center provide that opportunity.   

PEERS for Adolescents

The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) is world-renowned for providing evidence-based social skills treatment for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, anxiety, depression, or other social and behavioral disorders.  

Developed by UCLA’s Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, PEERS is a parent/caregiver-assisted social skills intervention for youth with social challenges. Each group session teaches essential social skills and allows adolescents to practice through socialization activities such as playing sports, games, etc.  

The program is for kids from 13-18 years old, and the cost is $160. Classes are every Wednesday (4:30-5:30 p.m.) from Sept. 15-Nov. 3. To register, complete the PEERS for Adolescents Questionnaire by Wednesday, Sept. 8. A staff member will contact you about payment.  

Boccia Ball

Boccia ball is a paralympic sport designed for people with cerebral palsy but is appropriate for anyone with disabilities affecting their motor skills. Individuals, teams, or pairs take turns throwing red and blue leather balls close to the white “jack” target ball. 

Our program teaches the required precision and strategy skills, and all ages are welcome to participate. Classes are every Monday (4:30-5:30 p.m.), with the first session from Sept. 12-Oct. 4 and the second from Oct. 22-Nov. 1. The cost is $40 per session. Register online or call 979-764-3486. Registration ends on the first day of each session. 

Classes are taught by Fiona Allen, a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and PEERS provider. Allen has a master’s degree in Community and Therapeutic Recreation and has more than 10 years of experience working with people with disabilities in recreation settings. Allen also supported a national USA Boccia athlete, traveling to the 2013 World Championships in China and the 2015 Toronto Para-Pan Am Games as a boccia ball sports assistant. 

For more information, contact us at 979-764-3486 or parks@cstx.gov.  

<strong><em><span class="has-inline-color has-medium-gray-color">About the Blogger</span></em></strong>
About the Blogger


Kelli Nesbitt has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 16 years, the last eight as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.

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