Friends, fam, teachers and care givers of special needs youth; suggestions pls

TeenSthrnAccent is on a committee that is planning a three day youth conference for 150 14 to 18 year olds. As part of the program the 150 youth will host 150 special needs youth for a day of service and activities. The special needs youth will be between 8 and 18 years old.

He is youth chair for the group planning the luncheon on the large activity day and has verbal committments from Chick-fil-A, Walmart, Kroger, and a local BBQ place. Chick-fil-A agreed to donate lunch for 300 on the big day. Walmart and Kroger agreed to donate $100 gift cards to put towards other meals. The local BBQ place agreed to cater a dinner meal for only the cost of the food, with no charge for preparation, delivery and catering.

However, (Here’s where we’d like your help) Next up each of the 12 youth on the committee needs a list of 20 ideas for the days activities that would be fun and uplifting for both the youths hosting the event and the special needs youth as well. Keep in mind that if the activity requires a lot of “stuff”, it may be cost prohibitive as while there was a small budget, it is mostly already allocated so everything remaining that they need for activities would have to be donated.
Here are some ideas so far:

Painting either on t-shirts or large paper murals or using hands and feet dipped into paint to make a picture.

Sing- a- long

Ping pong ball toss: toss balls into small bowls floating in tubs of water from varying distances.

Musical freeze tag. While someone plays music everyone must be in motion but when the music stops anyone that is still moving is out or some version that doesn’t eliminate anyone. Something fun with movement and music.

Bean bag toss. TSA would like to be the one to get to build a painted “target” with holes cut out or something. How close or far determined by ability, the goal here would be to have fun “making it in” the target.

Plaster pies. Each child gets a pie tin filled with dirt and water and they must switch it around and then smooth it out. They then make their hand print in it. You could then pour plaster of paris in it and make a mold for them to take away with them as a a reminder.

Face painting.

Water balloon relay races. They can carry the balloon in their lap if they are in chairs and either someone can push them to a certain line or they can wheel themselves there to hand it off to the next person.

TSA has half a dozen or so friends that would be considered “special needs” varying from deafness, to physical challenges, as well as emotional and social delays and doesn’t really need a lecture on being kind, compassionate and including everyone. He’s got that down nicely, that’s why he wants to have good ideas that everyone can do and have a good time.

Any suggestions from the teeming millions on activites for youth and special needs youth that were especially successful?

I’d try compiling a list of fun things that so-called “normal” kids want to do, then go through and strike the ones that would be proscribed by any of the prospective disabilities they might encounter. (Building a rope crosswalk over a creek is just right out if half the group is in wheelchairs. Basketball may not be out if the rules are modified and h-o-r-s-e might be fun for everyone except a paraplegic.)

I would think that most kids want to do the same kinds of things. I’m not sure how you tailor a program to include a kid with cerebral palsey and a kid whose only disability is deafness. Are the special kids mostly MRDD? Mostly physically disabled? Do they cross the whole spectrum?

Of course, with 300 kids, they should probably be able to come up with a fairly wide range of activities so that all the kids will enjoy some activities although no single activity will appeal to every kid.

If you start with activities that the “regular” kids like, the other kids will probably be delighted to be included in “normal” games while the “normal” kids won’t consider the activities a burden.
My daughter couldn’t beat a snail downhill with a tailwind in a race, but she still wants to try running if the opportunity arises.

I have a special needs child. Although he is younger than the group you are planning for, one easy, entertaining activity that is quiet but can hold kids attention for awhile is bubbles. Especially for kids that are not able to participate in strenuous or physically demanding activities, that may be fun. Painting may be a good idea, if its coming up soon, try kite making. Pre cut kites can be made ahead of time that require only decorating and assembling would be fun. Then flying them later that afternoon or taking them home could be an added treat. Kite materials might not be that cost prohibitive.

Dancing and music is a great youth pleaser. I think lots of kids would have fun being included in sharing something as fun as cool kids music, top 40 type stuff, maybe even karaoke. Do you know if you will have a dj or announcer person? Maybe they can donate some time and equipment to provide this type of entertainment. My nieces and kids love to dance and watch themselves on tv as they make their own “music video”. Maybe a local furniture renter place can lend a bigscreen tv and video equipment. These items can go near the music area and kids could watch themselves on tv as they dance. Have you also considered asking youth dance or cheer groups to come out and perform? School bands should also be considered, ask if they could donate their time. I think one of the important aspects that many of the special needs kids and their parents are going to appreciate is just being included. Having someone say, 'Hey you wanna try?" or “You want to come watch this with me?” means a lot to kids that besides not being able to participate are also sometimes never even considered part of a group that belongs. Thanks to your Teen and best wishes and luck.


I was wandering around a craft store a few days ago and was blown away by all the cool stuff. I bet the kids could paint fridge magnets for very little per item or make door hangers or who knows what else. I would be willing to bet that if someone explained the cause, your local craft store would have lots of ideas and might donate or discount the materials.

Good luck to your son. He sounds like a great kid.