As social beings, we like to spend time with our peers. Kids with special needs are no different, yet in Salem their opportunities are limited by access, acceptance and safety issues. This can cause a feeling of isolation not only for the kids but their families as well.
This was the motivating factor for Ellen Miller, CFM public affairs associate, to start a Game Club in Salem when a parent of a girl with autism brought up the idea in 2010.
Modeled after the Portland Asperger’s Network Teen Game Club, the Salem Game Club offers all kids with special needs an opportunity to have fun with their peers and a networking opportunity for their parents.
Kids play several gaming systems, along with board and card games, and enjoy the traditional chips and tootsie pops together.
Over the last four years, Ellen has enjoyed getting to know the kids and seeing their friendships grow. She also has seen the benefits for the parents. Parents share information with one another, from doctors to dietary restrictions. Parents often express how grateful they are to have their kids excited to get out of the house and to have something to look forward to each month.
The club meets every month at the IKE Box in Salem on the last Friday from 6 to 8:30 p.m., except for November and December due to the holidays.
The event is free and families can stop by at anytime during the night. Kids are required to sign in and parents are required to stay on the premises. IKE Box offers comfortable places for parents to relax, with free Wi-Fi and a coffee bar.