From 2011-2015, Investors Group Pickering Region became the Lead Sponsor of Camp Great Strides, making camp possible for kids diagnosed with Autism.
From this single request has grown a respite program that provides care for children age 13 years of age and under who have been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.
In the fall of 2009, FOOTPRINTS opened its second location in Durham Region hosted by St. Mark’s United Church in Whitby.
Securing affordable respite care is difficult for families in Durham Region – not that many community-based, low-cost programs exist.
In the beginning, the program received human resource encouragement and financial support from the United Way of Ajax-Pickering-Uxbridge.
Camp Great Stride ran five days per week, three hours per day. In 2014, Unity for Autism also helped with Camp Great Strides funding an Expansion to offer three more camps.
It became evident – through family feedback, that there was an eminent need for full-day camps. In 2016, through the generosity of Unity for Autism we offered morning, afternoon, or all day options for summer and Christmas holiday camps.
Thanks to Unity for Autism for their continued support of Camp Great Strides, we are once again offering full-day or half-day camp options through the summer and Christmas holidays.
Camp Great Strides incorporates many of the familiar routines, games, songs and activities you may remember from camp. Each session has a theme with appropriate games, craft activities and adventures to complement the theme.
“I like the camps. (They) had the children participate in a structured themed activity that involved core skills like fine motor and gross motor actions to accomplish an activity or craft. The children could then take it home and share it with their family. We don’t usually get to see our son participate in crafts at school. It was nice to see him accomplish something like that with help”, Whitby parent.
The camp is run by the Camp Program Coordinator, a Camp Counselor and staffed by FOOTPRINTS 4 Autism volunteers, all of whom have completed their required training programs and who are dedicated to providing a safe and happy environment for the children.