Imagine raising three children; one with special needs. Your child needs constant supervision. You aren’t able to take a vacation with your family because it’s too difficult to find proper care. You’re overwhelmed, exhausted, and constantly busy. This is how Jennifer felt every day for the past 16 years…until Highfields stepped in to support Jennifer and her family.
Jennifer is the mother of three incredible children. She lives with her fiancé and her family in Jackson. She has one son in college, a daughter in first grade, and her son Nick is 16 and is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Jennifer spends most of her time taking care of Nick. She has never spent a night away from him. Jennifer was referred to Highfields’ Wraparound Program three years ago and has never looked back.
“I can’t say enough great things about Highfields,” said Jennifer. “They have helped us keep our family together.”
Highfields’ Wraparound Program is a process which builds a support system for a family in need. In Jennifer’s case, her whole family had needs that were unmet.
“It’s difficult to find activities for Nick to do because he needs to be watched at all times,” said Jennifer. “He can be violent, he likes to run, and it’s hard for us to find sitters. I have two other children and we never have any time to ourselves.”
Because of this, Jennifer has never been able to take her family on a vacation. Until Jennifer’s Wraparound Counselor, Sandy, brought a new idea to the table that would benefit the whole family.
“I had heard of St. Francis Camp on the Lake before,” said Sandy. “It is a camp that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities. I thought it would be a great fit for Nick, and would help relieve a burden for Jennifer.”
Sandy coordinated with Lifeways and Highfields to help Jennifer afford a campership for Nick to attend St. Francis Camp on the Lake. Nick was thrilled when he found out that he would be able to go away to camp for five nights.
“Nick had seen his big brother go camping before, and he wants to be just like him,” said Jennifer. “He was so excited when he found out he was able to go. This was such a great opportunity for him.”
While Nick was at camp, Jennifer finally had the opportunity to take a family vacation.
“Since we had never been on a family vacation before, it was a great experience for me to spend quality time with my son and daughter,” said Jennifer. “I was able to give them my undivided attention, which is something they are not used to.”
When Jennifer and her family picked Nick up from camp, he couldn’t stop talking about what a great time he had going to a “big boy” camp.
“He was really happy when we saw him,” said Jennifer. “There were hugs and high-fives from everyone. It was a good experience for him. A special needs kid going camping overnight for five nights is a big deal.”
Jennifer was emotional to see her son and family together again. She couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity for her family.
“I am so thankful for the opportunity Highfields has given us,” said Jennifer. “It was a once in a lifetime experience and a win-win scenario for everyone. We are very appreciative of everyone who helped us out.”
Jennifer said Nick would love to go back to camp again. She hopes that people will recognize the benefits of camperships for children with special needs and their families.
Highfields works with many families who have children with special needs. If you’d like to help send children like Nick to camp or another fun class or activity, please click here to make a donation to our Giving Grid. Your donation will not only benefit children with special needs, but it will also help out wonderful families who deserve this opportunity.