SNN President Areva Martin with camp kids
Special Needs Network, Inc. (SNN) summer camp program, Camp J-Pac receives the support of local elected officials State Senator Curren Price, Jr., Assemblymembers Holly Mitchell (D-47) Steven Bradford (D-51) and Mike Davis (D-48) and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (2nd Dist), SNN co-founder and President and Camp J-Pac founder Areva Martin announced today. These community leaders signed on as Honorary Chairpersons as a show of support for the Camp J-Pac program, which provides free full day camp for over 200 disadvantaged youth in South Los Angeles. Camp J-Pac will begin its second year of camp on August 1, 2012. State Senator Curren Price, Jr. Chairs the California Black Caucus and is serving his second year as the only Senator from South Los Angeles on the Senate Select Committee on Autism which was convened by statute to continue the work of the State’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism, addressing gaps in services for individuals with autism.
In making the announcement, Areva Martin remarks, “It is an honor for us at Special Needs Network to have such a distinguished group of Honorary Chairpersons supporting our cause and actions. This amazing group of politicians understand the importance of what we are achieving by offering so many special needs and underprivileged children an opportunity for a genuine camp experience they might not have without this program. I’m deeply grateful to State Senator Curren Price, Jr., Assemblymembers Steven Bradford, Holly Mitchell and Mike Davis and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for their commitment to our kids.” Camp J-Pac opened its doors last summer on the campus of the Junior Blind of America in South Los Angeles and welcomed over 120 students with autism and other developmental disabilities and 80 typically developing siblings and peers.
Martin, who started the camp after Los Angeles Unified School District eliminated many of its traditional summer programs, is a special needs attorney and nationally recognized autism expert. She was concerned that children with autism, including her then 11 year-old autistic son, Marty, would have no where to go for the summer as most summer camp programs are either closed to kids with autism or too costly for working class and low income families. Martin comments, “Kids with autism need structured programs to avoid experiencing serious regression in language and other skills, and the 4 weeks of half day summer programming offered by LAUSD is simply inadequate.” ‘
With instruction in math, science, language arts and a host of recreational activities ranging from drama to dance, Camp J-Pac has captured the hearts of parents in South Los Angeles who otherwise would have no viable summer program for their kids. “I can’t imagine what my son or daughter would have done if there was no Camp J-Pac,” states Lizette Duarte, who drove over an hour a day to bring both of her special needs kids to the camp last summer and who was one of the first parents to sign up for this year’s camp program. Over 500 families will sign up for the limited 200 slots that are available.
Indeed the camp is filling a much needed void in South Los Angeles. Many parents have seen dramatic cuts in recreational and other enrichment programs not only by big school districts like LAUSD, but also by their local regional centers, whose funding by the California Department of Developmental Services was shaved by over 500 million within the last two years.
Co-founded in 2005 by attorney Areva D. Martin, SNN is a community based, non-profit organization formed to respond to the lack of representation of the underserved segment in special needs populations. Martin is one of the nation’s foremost autism and disability rights experts. She is a frequent on air contributor to The Dr. Phil Show and The Doctors, and has been featured on CBS and FOX News. Her bestselling book The Everyday Advocate: Standing Up for Your Child with Autism and Other Special Needs was re-released in paperback in April. www.ArevaMartin.com.
For additional information on SNN call 213.389.7100 or visit the website at www.specialneedsnetwork.org.