In 2001, I celebrated the happiest moment in my life when our son Liam was born. By 2003 the light in his eyes began to fade and our Liam became trapped inside of himself and his own world. Liam, you see is autistic.
Like any parent with a special needs child we sought out expert after expert. Along the way we were very fortunate to find the Lee Way School, Masera and Paul J. Bellew School.
In 2010 our Liam turned 9 and we had a new dilemma. What to do with Liam during the summer? He had aged out of the summer programs he had currently gone to and our school district wasn’t willing to afford us a special summer placement. Reality is summer placement is the same as summer school.
We, like a lot of parents found ourselves in a difficult situation. We networked with many parents and found ACLD had a summer program at the Great South Bay YMCA. It is a fabulous program that integrates special needs kids with typical kids. They provided shadows who blended in as camp counselors and helped our Liam Navigate the various transitions during camp.
ACLD like many state funded programs has its limitations. It can provide for everyone and can typically only provide parents with one 3 week session. Summer as you know is 10 weeks long and last I checked most people don’t get 7 weeks off. So the next question now what?
We approached the GSB YMCA and talked about special needs program. It typically cost approximately $1000 for a counselor for a 3 week session. The YMCA of Long Island is a generous organization and was willing to work with us and provided our Liam with a shadow. We believed in paying forward so in 2011 LIAM Foundation was formed and we were able to send 10 kids to camp. In 2012 we already have 19 kids and that number will surely grow.
Father & Founder of the LIAM-Foundation
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