Our story so far...
Community, Advocacy, and Resources for Everyone is what puts the C.A.R.E. in our name !
Southern Berkshire C.A.R.E., is a local, family based group. We provide parent to parent support, resource connections, community inclusion support and all inclusive activities to families with children of varying abilities in Great Barrington and our surrounding areas.
Southern Berkshire C.A.R.E. began our journey in 2017 at Extra Special Teas, in Great Barrington. They donate an adorable tea room space for us to hold our parent support meetings. Initially, we met with parents on topics such as safety, communicative resources and eventually community inclusion opportunities. We discussed the activities in our area for our children finding that a large portion of parents in our group felt their children were unable to access these activities independently or felt past attempts were unsuccessful, due in some way to their child’s disability or impairment. We discussed our group providing supports for individuals that would like to participate in typical structured sport activities, an idea I still haven’t totally given up on, but we went a different route. Southern Berkshire C.A.R.E. started organizing our own inclusive events, activities and sports in May 2017.
We’ve found that something special happens when parents and children encourage, support, assist and accept one another while we are ALL participating in activities together ! Parents supporting parents gives our kids the opportunity to experience things they might of missed otherwise. Through us they learn to do the same, encouraging and supporting one another. It’s been an amazing journey so far seeing this group evolve and we look forward to the future and to meet even more great families and kiddos along the way!
“After a long work/school week it is so much fun to get together with this group and play KICKBALL ! Laughing, smiles, cheering each other on. Kids playing along with us “older folks”! The kids helping each other ! On a scale of 1 to 10, Southern Berkshire C.A.R.E. is definitely a 10 !” - Debbie, Housatonic
“C.A.R.E. has brought together many wonderful families. I doubt you could find a more welcoming, supportive and accepting group!”
“Since joining Southern Berkshire C.A.R.E. with my children, they have made what I foresee to be lifelong friends and have participated in many inclusive activities that I could only have imagined they would have been a part of otherwise. The support between parents is hands down AMAZING ! If I ever need anything I always have someone to reach out to who understand the difficult or just plain daily silly situations we’re going through. TWO THUMBS UP! from us, we love our C.A.R.E. family!” - Jacqulyn, Sheffield, Ma.
We are so excited to announce that Southern Berkshire C.A.R.E. is now also affiliated with The Special Olympics of Massachusetts. With their support, we are now able to offer their programing, locally. In June 2018, our team successfully completed The Special Olympics - Young Athletes Program together and had a lot of fun doing it !
Currently, four of our C.A.R.E. volunteers/parents are now, also, Special Olympic coaches. We look forward to bringing more of all that the Special Olympics has to offer locally. Stay tuned !
I have also become a Volunteer Playgroup Leader at The Community Health Program of the Berkshires. This has opened a space at the Family Center for our group to use for events, playgroups and get togethers. We are so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to inviting our families to join us there again in the future!
Finding a community based program that is accessible, accommodating and accepting while providing opportunities for you child to socialize with peers shouldn’t be as difficult as it has been proven to be. That is why we are here. By connecting with one another you find that we all benefit.
We encourage people to come to one of our hosted events or an event we attend as a group in our community and meet some wonderful kiddos and families. Visiting will allow you to witness the magic.
I, like most of you, parent typical needs on a daily basis. Which is a pure beautiful chaos as many of you know! I am the mother of four AMAZING children who challenge me and inspire me all at the time, which I find is the hidden beauty of families with special needs. Autism, Severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder, ADHD, Asthma, Severe Food Allergies, Kidney Disease, Cerebral Palsy, Hemangiomas, Food Aversion, Thriving Issues, Mobility Delays, Prematurity, Developmental Delays, Brain Injury and all that stems from those core issues live here with us too. I.E.P.'s, 504's, E.I., playgroups, specialists, and accommodations! The ones you advocate for and the ones you find yourself making at home and in the community, are here with us too. Finding your way through the complexity of the needs is hard to say the least, but by connecting families and supporting one another we are empowered and unstoppable!
I have been personally and/or professionally involved in the Special Needs Community for 23 years and in that time I have had the opportunity to work with some of what I believe to be the best organizations, educators, professionals and families in the area. Through my time within the community of special needs, I have found that parents are the best resource for other parents. HANDS DOWN ! Sharing with parents increases your knowledge of available resources, provides the much needed understanding, guidance and support, that is different from that coming directly from your team of professionals. It’s personal, as it should be, there’s nothing more personal than parenting. Parenting a child with a disability can feel isolating but shouldn’t, there are many of us here and by connecting with each other, it wont be.
🌟, Melissa Ann