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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 2:27 am | Fair 45º

 
 
 
 

Katie’s FUNd Provides Outlet for Teens With Developmental Disabilities

The Alpha Resource Center program, for teens and young adults, is throwing a community fundraiser on Saturday to help build awareness.

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Katie’s FUNd, a program run through the Santa Barbara Resource Center, provides social activities such as dances for teens and young adults with developmental disabilities. (Alpha Resource Center photo)

Dance parties, scavenger hunts, nights out for dinner and movies with friends. Sounds like normal activities for teens in middle school and high school, right?

For teens with developmental disabilities, this time of life can be a challenge. While schools have become inclusive and educational opportunities have greatly improved, developing friendships based on camaraderie, shared interests and mutual understanding (and having a good time on a Friday night!) is not as easy to accomplish through the school system.

Katie’s FUNd, a program run through Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara, provides the solution.

The purpose of Katie’s FUNd is to provide teens and young adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to engage in social and recreational activities in an integrated, safe and supportive environment. The events planned through the program are directed by the interests of the participants, so it’s the activities that they want to do.

The program was instituted in 2003 and has been popular since its inception. So popular, in fact, that the older teens, the ones graduating high school and entering college, have their own group now.

“I like it because Friday nights I usually don’t get to do that much stuff,” one teen participant said, “but now that we’re doing this I get to have fun with my friends rather than be bored at home.”

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The Alpha Resource Center’s programs offer recreational activities in a safe and supportive environment. (Alpha Resource Center photo)
One of the most important aspects of Teen Extreme (for younger teens), ExPo (Extreme Possibilities, for older participants) and the Extended Summer Program is the friendships that have developed between the teens, young adults, staff members and volunteers.

This is one of very few places where participants get to just “hang out” with their peers.

“I went through some hard things in my life last year and ExPo has been a place I can go to be safe from all the hard things,” said Ben, a Teen Extreme graduate and ExPo participant. “It is a place I can go be with my friends.  It’s not like school or work where I have responsibilities.  It’s a place I can relax, hang out … and feel like I have chill time.”

Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara, 4501 Cathedral Oaks Road, is hosting a Katie’s FUNd fundraiser from noon to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. There will be a barbecue lunch provided by Suburban Kiwanis, children’s activities, a raffle, music and more. It’s a community event designed to build awareness of Katie’s FUNd and the activities it supports.

For information on the event or the program, contact teen coordinator Amy Buesker at 805.683.2145, ext. 127, or [email protected]

Marisa Bourke is outreach coordinator for Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara.

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