MISSION & VISION
Extreme Kids & Crew is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that connects and empowers children with disabilities/special needs, their friends and families through the arts, movement and play. Through arts-based programming and a sensory gym available for open play, caregivers, siblings and children of all abilities come together, explore, create, play, relax and connect.
The welcoming space allows participants to find, hone, and display their particular talents, and allows us to collectively change the larger public’s conception of what it means to be disabled.
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 three years. We have had over four 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!