MISSION & VISION
Extreme Kids & Crew, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is a community center that provides a welcoming, supportive space for children with disabilities, their families and friends, to socialize, create and play. Through arts-based programming and a sensory gym for constructive play, caregivers, siblings and children of all abilities come together to explore, connect, relax and gain confidence in their capabilities.
We believe in the existence of a community of disability. Our programming brings families from diverse backgrounds together and breaks down the barriers that often divide us, while the welcoming space allows children with disabilities to find, hone, and display their particular talents, fine tune their socialization and fine motor skills, and make friends. As a community of disability we will collectively change the larger public’s concept of what it means to be disabled.
"Where science and biological cure have stalled, the social model of disability has achieved wild triumph. Many specific techniques are invaluable in addressing particular needs, but the long and the short of it is that disabled children, like nondisabled children, thrive on attention, engagement, stimulation, and hope."
- Andrew Solomon “Far from the Tree”
My children are the inspiration behind Extreme Kids & Crew. My son Felix has a grab bag of disabilities, including autism and cerebral palsy. His younger sisters don't. I wanted to create a place outside of our home where we were not the only exceptional family with the whooping kid in the wheelchair, but just another rambunctious, ramshackle family. Through my daughters, I made friends with parents raising neurotypical children, and their company was sustaining and valuable. I yearned for these same sorts of connections with people raising children with disabilities and special needs. I knew they existed. I would see them at hospitals, doctors offices, and schools, frazzled like me, caught up in what seemed to be a never-ending treadmill of appointments and bureaucracy. We were all so focused on our particular children's treatments, interventions, diagnoses, behaviors, and insurance or lack-of-insurance snafus that there was not the time and space to explore our commonalities, to relax and be with one another.
And so: Extreme Kids & Crew. A not-for-profit arts-movement-play program dedicated to connecting and empowering families raising children with every sort of disability and special need. We are not a therapy center. We are a place where children who are often working very hard to compensate for or overcome their disabilities can take a break and be celebrated for the people they are, exactly as they are right now. And we are not only for these children. We are also for their brothers, sisters, parents, and friends. We are a place where the entire family can play on inventive sensory equipment, make and listen to music and express themselves through the arts: circus arts, drama, dance, printmaking, drawing, collage and more. We are forever experimenting with more.
Extreme Kids & Crew has now been operating for over four years. We have had over six hundred families from every borough of New York City take part. Children with autism, sensory processing disorders, ADHD, down's syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, and many more irregularities, diagnosed and not, have taken our classes, participated in our open plays, attended our free monthly concerts. Families come from every economic class and a great variety of cultures. What ties us together is the experience of living with and loving a child who is different.
When I started Extreme Kids & Crew. I had not realized how inspired I would be by the other parents and children I would meet, nor was I prepared for the generosity and enthusiasm of musicians and artists and other volunteers who have made our program such a creative powerhouse. I was warned that starting such a program would tax my energies, instead it gave me energy. The friendships that I have made through Extreme Kids and Crew have widened and sweetened my world. I invite you to drop by and experience it for yourself!