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Summer is officially upon us. For some therapists, this means time off or reduced caseloads. If you are looking for some summer work (which I doubt you are but figured I would offer) how about plan a new, unique program to start up during the next school year. Maybe you have a special talent that you could teach to children. Perhaps you have a passion or hobby that you would like to share with others. Use the summer to plan the program so that it is ready to go in the Fall.

If you need some inspiration for specialized programs, here are some ideas to start for children of all abilities:

1. Digital arts program using assistive technology.
2. After school creativity club (explore arts, movement and music)
3. Physical activity club for preschoolers.
4. Bicycle riding club – plan group trips to parks, create lists of appropriate trails and more.
5. Movement and dance club – try ballet, hip hop, jazz, square dancing and more.
6. Outdoor club for children – explore parks, take hikes, plant gardens…
7. Drama club and produce a play or movie.
8. Healthy living club – encourage good nutrition and physical activity.
9. Video Game Work Outs – facilitate physical activity through the use of video games such as the Wii and Dance, Dance Revolution
10. Cooking Club – learn healthy recipes and a necessary life skill.

Now if you do have a great idea, how about applying for a grant. Grant money is available for almost anything imaginable if you look hard enough. Grants have different application deadlines each year and many have already past for this year. Perhaps some of your summer downtime could include preparing to submit a grant application for that special program you have always dreamed of running.

Grant writing takes a lot of preparation, time and energy. It can be an arduous task but with a great end result. Before you apply for a grant, make sure your program meets the requirements for the grant money. Most grants have specific guidelines for you to read prior to submitting your application. You will need to be very specific regarding: the goals of your program, how much money you need, how you will carry out the program and how you measure if it is effective. Keep in mind, most grants require that you submit the grant on behalf of a non profit organization.

If you do apply for a grant but get turned down, do not give up. Perhaps your program idea could be carried out by a group of volunteers. Parents and teachers may be more than willing to volunteer their time. High school and college students frequently need volunteer hours to for honor society membership, religious sacraments and college admissions. You may be able to get a local business to sponsor the activity with a donation in exchange for some advertising on t-shirts. Don’t forget to check on insurance coverage for where you meet or ask parents to sign a waiver.

Have some more ideas to offer? Please leave your comments below.