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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : features : features May 24, 2016

11/24/2012 3:01:00 PM
Sedona school's NEA program a self-esteem boost
Sedona-Oak Creek School District’s Never Ending Activities program helps build and maintain self-esteem among the special needs student population by participating in hiking, bowling, art and going tothe movies.
Sedona-Oak Creek School District’s Never Ending Activities program helps build and maintain self-esteem among the special needs student population by participating in hiking, bowling, art and going tothe movies.

The Sedona-Oak Creek School District and Sedona Red Rock High School are ramping up a groundbreaking and exciting program for students with special needs that account for approximately 10 percent of the student population.

Led by Scott Keller, Director of Student Services, the program was named by the students - NEA for Never Ending Activities. Co-Founder and parent of a special needs student, Bonny Singer has been instrumental in developing the program with the School District. Singer's passion for the project is a key factor in pushing things forward and as she states, "I am proud to be part of this brand new concept of special education for the students that will allow them to engage in activities that have been geared especially for them. This program is a very personal one for my family and me and I am so excited to get this going!"

Students with special needs often face challenges in building and maintaining their self-esteem. Positive self-esteem is as important to a student's success in school and later on with a job as is the mastery of any important life skill. Having a positive self-esteem helps anyone feel better about themselves, their accomplishments and their potential to be successful in the future. For many students with special needs, they experience challenges in their verbal communications and social awareness and often have difficulty determining when or how to be appropriate in their behavior. In addition, they have trouble comprehending their strengths and weaknesses, expressing their thoughts to others and how they fit in their peer group. The NEA after school program has been developed to address creating a safe series of social and physical activities for the students to experience as a team. This will build their self-esteem and also provide a physical outlet for them that engages them with social interaction, mental and physical stimulation as well as engaging their creativity. The program includes a Breakfast Club where the students meet twice a month to discuss what is going on in their lives. Activities scheduled for the first semester will include hiking, biking, going to the movies, participating in art activities, creekside hiking excursions, and bowling. The bowling activity is planned for the end of the semester and will represent a celebration of all that has been accomplished.

In the spring, engaging the students in recreational therapy, the skate park, fishing, horseback riding and basketball are all on the drawing board. The program will be administered by Keller with assistance from mentors. The mentors will be a combination of current and former educators as well as students that are interested in participating in the program. The students that are involved will receive community service time for their participation and will also help to bridge the gap between the special needs students and rest of the student population at the school.

One of the key benefits of this program is to create a social environment for the special needs students providing fun activities that they can enjoy together. Often times, these students are not included in activities with the general school population and feel disenfranchised. The NEA Program will become their club of inclusion that offers some great physical activities as well as fun ones like going to the movies together. Children with special needs face unique challenges but benefit greatly from a club environment such as the NEA Program which addresses their desire for friendships, taking a break from their parents, being included like everyone else and enjoying physical activity that empowers them emotionally and physically. The physical activities are geared around the beautiful backyard of Sedona and will include eating healthfully while exercising as nutritionally beneficial food and water will be included as a part of each activity.

The Never Ending Activities program needs some help from the community to get up and running. Namely, the program is looking for individual and corporate sponsors as well as qualified mentors. Individuals interested in donating to the program can participate in 2 ways - both of which are qualified tax deductible contributions. First, a straight monetary donation can be made to the: Scorpion Booster Club -NEA and this can be done by sending a check to: Scorpion Booster Club, P.O. Box 4006, Sedona, AZ 86340. Individuals can also allocate their Arizona Tax Credit ($200.00 for an individual; $400 for married couples) to the NEA Program. Contributions must be made by December 31, 2012 to be used as a tax credit. This can be done anytime by making your tax credit payment to: Sedona - Oak Creek School District. Sedona Kids Tax Credit, NEA Program, 221 Brewer Road, Suite 109, Sedona, AZ 86336-9938. Please notate that the donation is for the NEA Program on the memo line of your check.

Corporate sponsors have the opportunity to support the program by donating money or materials to the program. There are 3 corporate giving levels: $100 -Bronze; $250 - Silver; and $500 - Gold Level Sponsors. All proceeds will directly benefit the program and will pay for the mentors, supplies, food, fees and transportation to the various activities. Please contact Scott Keller at (928) 204-6836 or via email at to discuss this program and how you can be involved.

The NEA Program starts up in November with a great hike, a biking experience, an outing to the movies and two breakfast clubs. The students are very excited about this program and have been involved every step of the way including naming the club, creating marketing artwork, designating the activities that they want to participate in and joining forces to make this a rewarding experience.

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