INCLUDEnyc Voices

The importance of recreation: Gearing up for the INCLUDEnyc Fair

I always wanted to attend summer camp but unfortunately, it was too expensive. Since my mom is a special education teacher, she was able to stay home with my siblings and me all summer. Thankfully, my mom understood the importance of recreation and became the unofficial camp counselor of our neighborhood. Thanks to her, we were never short on activities. We did everything from gymnastics competitions and picnics to fashion designing and book clubs. My mother taught me that socialization is as important as academics and every child deserves to be included, regardless of wealth or ability.

At 16, I worked at a summer camp for kids with and without disabilities, the same camp my mom worked at when she was my age. It was here that I decided I wanted to work with kids with disabilities.

At 22, I joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Jordan to work in special education. When I first arrived at my site, I realized that most of my students went home after school and remained there until we picked them up the next morning. There were no recreational opportunities for my students. So we created one. Another volunteer and I put together a summer camp for the four special education centers in our region. We recruited the other volunteers for help with leading activities like art, karate, and science. We worked closely with our counterparts to ensure the camp could continue after we completed our service.

At 27, I joined the INCLUDEnyc team and my favorite part of the job is managing the INCLUDEnyc Fair. Formerly Summer Fun and More, the event that started in the basement of a church is quickly outgrowing the penthouse of Hotel Pennsylvania. It’s incredible to see how many recreational opportunities there are for children and young adults with disabilities in New York City. This year’s fair will be on January 27 at Hotel Pennsylvania. For more details, please visit our INCLUDEnyc Fair page.

- Carly Wolff