Every year, Intermountain’s School Based Treatment program hosts a summer program for the children it serves in the Helena community. This year will be the 7th summer, and thanks to the creative and dedicated staff, the program has only grown in size and fun over the years.
During the school year the program teams, which are scattered throughout several schools in the Helena, East Helena, and Montana City School Districts, work with children suffering from a variety of difficulties, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. These children depend on the School Based Treatment teams to learn how to work through and better manage their issues. For some kids, attending school would not even be possible without the comfort of knowing they have the support and compassion of the staff right in their school all day. Once summer hits and school goes on recess for three months, these kids lose their school day structure and are often left to fend for themselves during the day. This is where the summer program comes into play.
The goal is not only to ensure that the kids have fun, but also that the staff do not lose the progress made in developing healthy and trusting relationships with the kids.
The summer program typically runs three days a week, and the kids are organized into elementary, middle, and high school groups. Each day, the program leads the kids in therapeutic groups, outdoor games and fun fieldtrips. In summers past, Intermountain has taken kids to swim at Memorial Park Pool, visit the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, dig for Montana sapphires and learn about science at Exploration Works. Many of the activities for the kids are things they wouldn’t have the luxury of participating in otherwise.
In addition to providing fun summer activities, the summer program provides nutritious lunches, snacks and home pickup and drop-off for all the kids! Even though this requires some serious logistics, it truly is the hallmark of the program. Without transportation, too many kids simply choose not to come or have no way of getting to the program site even if they do want to come. By showing up at their door every morning and dropping them off every afternoon, not only does Intermountain ensure that they will be able to attend the summer program consistently, it shows the children that they really are cared about and that their participation is valued.
The summer program continues all of the critical therapy work with the kids that it does during the school year while adding in fun elements like games and fieldtrips. This program affords unique opportunities for the kids that they can enjoy alongside their peers. While many school programs end at the start of summer, only grows more active because it recognizes how crucial it’s work and interactions with the kids are to keep them on track with getting to happier and more stable places in life.
You can help!
Below is a list of items that are needed for the children in Intermountain’s summer program:
• Four GPS units for the teams to use for Geocaching
• Gift cards to kid friendly places in town (Exploration Works, Sleeping Giant Lanes, Memorial Park Pool, etc.)
• Sun shirts
• Life jackets