On January 6, 2015, Social Opportunities and Recreation (SOAR) opened its sixth Teen Club site for seven students at Hardin Middle School in the St. Charles School District.
Teen Club is a recreation program designed to provide after-school care for teens ages 12-21 with developmental disabilities. “We haven’t had a St. Charles location in several years,” Gerald Ledford, SOAR Manager, said. “By opening this site, we’ve added additional participants to the SOAR program who otherwise would not be able to attend Teen Club due to location.”
There’s a lot that goes into opening a site, but the first thing is having a need. “The need was definitely here,” Gerald said. “We wanted to open with at least five individuals and we have more, so it made it easier to open.”
Emily Zull, Site Specialist, says everything is going great. “We have a great rapport with the principal (Dr. Ed Gettemeier),” Emily said. “He allows us to utilize many areas of the school and sometimes he even participates in our activities.”
Part of the ease is because some of the students were Teen Club participants at another site. “The transition to Hardin was easier since they already had experience with Teen Club,” Gerald said. “It was just transitioning them from one location to the new location.” For one individual who transferred to Hardin, she is no longer one-on-one (staff to student ratio). “Due to the change of location and having more activities to do, she no longer needs one-on-one support,” Gerald said.
But, a bigger part of the ease was Dr. Gettemeier, Principal at Hardin. “He told us this is a community-based school, so why not give it back to the community,” Gerald said. He has given Emily access to many areas of the school. . Emily can plan a multitude of activities, such as cooking, games and movies. “Basically, if she can dream it, she can do it,” Gerald said.