DSC News

Spotlight On: Seattle Parks and Recreation Specialized Programs

Seattle Parks and Recreation spans the city of Seattle, from Bitterlake to Rainier Beach with parks, pools, trails, community centers, and even golf courses – comprising over 6000 acres which amounts to about 12% of the city’s land. Within its vast offering is a unit that designs specialized programs for people of all cognitive and physical abilities. We spoke with Kyle Bywater, Recreation Program Coordinator for Seattle Parks and Recreation Specialized Programs.

What is offered through the Specialized Programs unit?
We offer all kinds of recreation – yoga, basketball, swimming, bowling, track & field, pottery, football, rock climbing… We want all kids, teens, and adults to have the same opportunities and experiences their peers are having, so we design programs and train staff to make that happen. Our staff ratio ranges from 1:3 to 1:7 depending on the age being served, and the kind of activity we’re doing.

Summer is over, so what now?
Although our summer camps are awesome, we function throughout the year. We have after school programscare; Special Olympics sports; a unified play gym; our teen socials on Friday nights include dinner and a movie, laser tag, roller skating, and haunted houses; and we have weekend outings that will include trips to M-Bar-C Ranch, MoPop, and Cougar Mountain Zoo. There is always plenty going on, and Fall registration is open now! Registration closes once a program is full, and most of our offerings end up with wait lists.

What is the cost for these amazing opportunities?
We want this to be available for anyone to participate, so we keep costs low. This summer, for a week of overnight camp at Camp Long, the price was $110. We offer scholarships, and families can easily qualify for financial assistance of up to 80% of the cost. In addition, we accept DDA funds for our programs, and the pools, which offer specialized swimming lessons, can also take DDA funds.

What is one of your favorite experiences with Specialized Programs?
Every summer, we offer 4 weeks of day camp at Lower Woodland Park for people ages 4 to 21 and 4 weeks of overnight camp at Camp Long for ages 6 to 21. One of the weeks at Camp Long is talent week – it is always a highlight for me as wells as for the campers, and friends and family that come to see the shows they create! Each cabin group puts on a show, and it is the best week of the summer! That week is also the first to fill up, so sign up as soon as registration opens in early February!

How do we get more information or enroll in a Specialized Program.
I encourage all of your member families to call in to be added to our mailing list. You’ll receive our brochures which detail programs each season. (add link to PDF Fall brochure here) Our phone number is 206-684-4950. All enrollment is also done via a phone call to that number. To stay current, you can also check out our facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/SPRSpecializedPrograms/) And of course, our website can provide you with information. (http://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/specialized-programs)

Do you partner with other groups or organizations to provide programs?
Yes! We’ve partnered with Seattle Adaptive Sports, Friendship Adventures, Puget Sound Deaf Association, iCanBike, Vision Loss Connections, Open Doors for Multicultural Families, Seattle Schools, Outdoors for All, Sail Sandpoint, Special Olympics, and our number one partnership – the Associated Recreation Council. The way I look at it, we’re all in it together!

How can we get involved or contribute to Specialized Programs?
Become a part of our Advisory Council. Our Advisory Council stems from our partnership with the Associated Recreation Council. I work with the Advisory Council as coordinator, and we currently have 7 volunteers who are advocates for our programs. The council members educate decision makers and the community, sharing their experiences. The council’s role is to advocate and work with the staff team to make sure we’re providing equitable programs city-wide. Council members come to special events and support our programs. They help with grant applications and advise the city council so that we have buy in when the city council and mayor make budget decisions that affect funding for the parks and our programs specifically. If you’re interested in being part of the Advisory Council, please contact me at [email protected] or 206-684-7548.

Whether you’re in Seattle or nearby, make sure you find out what’s happening now and take advantage of the incredible range of offerings through Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Specialized Programs!

Click HERE to see the Specialized Programs Fall 2018 Brochure.