Here are some community resources for students with disabilities in the bay area
SNAP swim program in Berkeley and Challenger baseball leagues
Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP)
Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center
Kids Gym, Berkeley
This 10,000-square-foot facility is the crème de la crème for indoor play when you’ve got a kid who needs to get moving! Their open gym is available for kids up at 11 years old (plus their caregivers) and offers swings, an indoor zip line, toys for fine motor skills development, crash mats, pillows and more. Kids will work on skills like balance, coordination and sharing without even knowing it! Need a break from all the stimulation? Head to the quiet room for some down time. Check the schedule for special events like circle time, kids yoga and everyone’s favorite—the dance party.
2920 Seventh Street
Magical Bridge Playground, Palo Alto
Touted as one of the nation’s most inclusive playgrounds, the Magical Bridge opened its Palo Alto location in April 2015 to pleased children and parents alike. With five different “play zones” to choose from, kids can swing, sway, spin and slide to their heart’s content. The music zone was provided to motivate interaction, facilitate socialization and improve social skills among children. Pretend play is encouraged throughout the playground but especially in the two-story playhouse that is fully accessible to all children via ramps and bridges.
600 East Meadow Road
Palo Alto, CA
Grins ‘n’ Giggles Party Space
Established by Gatepath, a nonprofit serving individuals with developmental disabilities and their families for more than 98 years, Grins ‘n’ Giggles party space was designed with specialized indoor and outdoor play structures to accommodate children of all abilities and accessible for those with special needs and disabilities. Best of all, it’s available year-round, rain or shine. Grins ‘n’ Giggles is staffed by credentialed early childhood educators with experience in caring for children of all abilities, who will help parents plan a fun-filled day of activities, which could include face painting, art projects, bounce house jumping, parachute games and guided play.
Grins ‘n’ Giggles
McCarthy Center for Children & Families
1764 Marco Polo Way
Rotary PlayGarden, San Jose
Donated by the Rotary of San Jose in 2015, this park aims to enable children with special needs to play alongside their siblings and friends. Right near the airport (with loads of planes flying overhead!), the park offers a wheelchair accessible merry-go-round (moved by kid power!), slides, swings and all sorts of kinetic art to get kids exploring. The entire play area is fenced for safety but there’s not a ton of shade there so go on a cloudy day. Read more about our visit here.
Guadalupe River Park
Coleman Avenue at Autumn Street
San Jose, CA
Sky High Sports, Special Needs Jump Time
Sky High Sports turns off the music, dims the lights and dials down the distractions on Tuesdays from 3-6 p.m. for the comfort of guests. Jump sessions for kids with special needs and their families is a passion project for Sky High founder Jerry Raymond. The father of a special needs son, Jerry has witnessed how jumping can help improve motor and sensory skills, social interaction and overall fitness for kids and young adults on the Autism spectrum as well as young people with Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy and other disorders. During special jump sessions, each jumper is $5 from 3pm until 6pm with one parent or therapist free. Family members who jump are also just $5.
Sky High Sports
2880 Mead Ave.
Santa Clara, CA
Sensory-Friendly Movies at AMC
On the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, select AMC theaters offer a sensory-friendly screening of kid-friendly new releases. They turn the lights up and the sound down to make it more comfortable for kids. Everyone is free to sing, dance, shout and walk around as needed throughout the film. These theaters offer this amazing program so check their online schedule for upcoming showings:
San Francisco: AMC CLASSIC Deer Valley 16, AMC Showplace Manteca 16
Oakland: AMC Bay Street 16
San Jose: AMC Mercado 20
Swim and Gym Inclusion Program At the Downtown Berkeley YMCA, families with children with special needs are welcomed to participate in regular programming, but also catered to with tumbling and swimming classes for ages 2-6 and creative movement, games, and friendship building workshops for ages 4-12. Contact Rachel or Eden with questions about accommodations or these programs: 510.665.3280.
E-Sports includes several Bay Area community service programs: E-Soccer, E-Karate, E-Hoops, E-Fitness, and our newest, E-Dance. Each program specializes in inclusion, which partners kids with typical and special needs alongside each other in various athletic capacities. These programs have pioneered the inclusive sports philosophy and made an impact on families from California to Kenya.
UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE