Extra Special People, an organization that fosters skills in children with developmental disabilities, held a grand opening in Watkinsville Saturday.
Extra Special People, Inc. strives to enhance the lives of children with developmental disabilities and their families by focusing on their abilities – not disabilities. The organization provides services throughout the year to residents of 13 counties in Northeast Georgia.
ESP serves individuals with behavior disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism, Asperger’s, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and many more. No child with a disability is turned away from ESP.
ESP provides a safe place that individuals with disabilities can call their own. The organization offers after-school programs, summer camp, special events and weekend outings.
According to an article by the Athens Banner-Herald, ESP was the dream of Martha Wylie, who created the organization 30 years ago. Now more than 300 families have been supported by its programs. In accord with Extra Special People’s mission statement, those children have been able to “cultivate skills, self-confidence, and relationships through recreational therapy, community involvement, and the arts.”
ESP celebrated its “30 and Thriving” anniversary by opening a new 14,000-square-foot building at 189 VFW Drive in Watkinsville.
“ESP’s first program was a summer camp that allowed children to come together for a couple of weeks and spend time with kids who had similar special needs,” the article reads. “The journey toward the new building began six years ago as ESP board members became concerned that their existing space wasn’t adequate to serve the needs of hundreds of campers during the summer. The new building ‘shows the value and dignity and how special these kids are to us and the community,’’ Whitaker said in the article.
With its new facility, ESP hopes to be able to serve more of the estimated 2,000 young people in the area with special needs, and to better serve the individuals and families who are already a part of their program.
As ESP grows, it is committed to keeping costs low for families, so that they can focus on their child’s experiences, rather than financing them. ESP charges families just 20 percent of the cost of camp. To make that possible, they rely on the support of the community. For a list of needed items, visit http://extraspecialpeople.com/the-dream/donate-now/.
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