Like most parents, the parent therapists at Quinte Children’s Homes face additional challenges in summer. Although the season brings with it sunshine and new opportunities, summer can also mean bored kids and busy, stressed-out caregivers.
“When children and youth are in school, it provides parent therapists with a little more time during the day to complete daily activities such as appointments, grocery shopping, cleaning and preparing dinner,” says Program Supervisor Cathy Fequet. “When kids are in school it also provides some down time in a high-stress profession. When school is out, parent therapists have to time-manage that much more to complete all the regular responsibilities of being a PT in addition to keeping our children and youth busy. The busier they are, the happier they are.”
While day and overnight camps are a good option for many children, they don’t work for everybody. “Some youth aren’t able to attend camp because they require a higher level of support than what camps can offer,” says Fequet. “Some of our youth thrive/stabilize on the structure, routine and supports offered from Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning (AAPL) and the relationships they’ve built with AAPL staff and friends. That halts when school is out.”
How We Help PTs, Staff & Our Kids During Summer
The supportive staff at QCH help to alleviate stress for PTs and their children in a number of ways. They provide increased staff support during days, evening and weekends to homes and youth that require it. Increased clinical time is available for PTs to review youths’ needs and the challenges they may present during the summer. “In addition, planned company-wide day activities provide opportunities for our homes to get together and socialize, as well as seek advice and support from others who are experiencing the same stresses over summer,” says Fequet.
Each summer, QCH plans different activities for PTs, staff and youth to come together and have some fun. This year, the team has planned four themed beach days. Game Day will see participants engage in traditional summer fun games such as the three-legged race and the water balloon toss. Sand Castle Competition day means some friendly competition, with awards like “Bigger the Better,” “Most Creative” and “Judges Choice”. The team is also set to host a Beach Scavenger Hunt and, the final beach day, a Wrap of Summer Luau Party. This send-off to summer will feature a limbo contest, Hawaiian-themed clothing, a potluck meal and pizza provided by QCH.
In the past, QCH has organized and financially supported excursions to the beach, Kingston Family Funworld, Cedar Park Resort, Mustang Drive-In, mini golf, Reid’s Dairy, Roblin Lake, baseball games and Canada’s Wonderland. “Even given our parent therapists’ busy summer schedules, with their individual family plans such as camping, family barbecues and camps, many attended these events and they were each a huge success,” says Fequet. “The younger kids raved about how they loved the waterpark and the drive-in (for some it was their first time going to a drive-in!) and the older teens loved playing baseball – I think they really liked the chance to smack a ball out of the park and watch us PTs and staff run!”
Since summertime fun comes with a financial cost, QCH covers a portion of each staff and parent therapist’s seasonal beach pass so they can not only visit Sandbanks Provincial Park with QCH, but also on their own with their family whenever they choose.
“We encourage our PTs to plan out each day of the summer with day activities and camps,” says Fequet. “Keeping our youth busy reduces the boredom, stress and tension that comes with all families when kids are home for the summer.”
After all, summer is meant for enjoyment. “It can be an opportunity to provide our children and youth with experiences they may never have had before, such as camps, camping, day trips, organized sports and out-of-province travel,” says Fequet. “These family experiences not only build our youth’s life and social skills and identity, they also create bonding moments and lifelong memories.”
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