ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. – Finding free resources for children with special needs can be a challenge, but a nonprofit organization in St. Clair Shores is making it easier for parents and children, all while having fun.
The kids are on the go inside a classroom at Pare Elementary School in St. Clair Shores. In fact, that's the name of the organization these children are involved in.
"Kids on the Go is a nonprofit organization that provides free therapy for children with special needs," said Kristy Schena.
Schena is the mastermind behind the program. Children with special needs ages 3-17 visit the nonprofit to develop their current skills through therapeutic and wellness programs.
Children participate in activities such as dance, flag football, art therapy, handwriting, as well as teens to work and going social programs, just to name a few. Many parents call the organization a lifesaver.
"I'm a speech pathologist and founded Kids on the Go in 1999 when I recognized most insurance programs were not providing these programs for children in the summer months, and private pay back then was about $45 for about 15 minutes of therapy, and now it's about $115 for 15 minutes of therapy," Schena said.
Schena has found that many parents of children with special needs can't afford therapy in the summer months because it's too expensive. Kids on the Go is free of charge and is a huge benefit for parents and children. Schena has been able to watch many children grow up in the program.
"Having them come back in June or July when they see us and get that big hug and see that they've grown six inches, you know? The relationship I've built with the families over the years has been incredible, and that's really what keeps me going," Schena said.
Also keeping her going is her son. Nine years after she started Kids on the Go, Schena and her husband had a special needs child of their own. Her work with the nonprofit became personal.