Not Your Ordinary Summer Camp


Over 75 special needs children and youth have flocked to Sara’s Garden in June and July for individualized skill development, specialized therapeutic intervention, intensive behavioral modification, and vocational job training. The Summer Intervention Program in Wauseon and Springfield Township worked with the children and youth on targeted behaviors, interventions, or activities that their parents or public schools requested.

With COVID-19 closing many schools and forcing others into online, virtual learning, many special needs students fell behind academically, socially, and behaviorally this past year. The Summer Intervention Program offered parents and schools, through their Extended School Year (ESY) Services, a way to intensively address these regressions and meet the requirements set by Governor Mike DeWine to offer compensatory, special education services. Sara’s Garden offers summer intervention programming each year; but this year, it filled an even bigger need for therapy services and intervention programming.

The summer services included conductive education (CE), speech/language pathology (SLP), occupational therapy (OT), applied behavioral analysis (ABA), group socialization, academic intervention, life and vocational skill development, and job training for preschool children to high school youth. Sara’s Garden was proud to offer all of these extraordinary services in a fun, structured manner with an underwater theme, which promoted individual development, growth, and independence.

One of the summer highlights for the younger children was getting to see, pet, and enjoy Squirt and Stripz, the Striped Turtles. They were brought in and shared by Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Amanda Grubb, who just loved listening to the kids ask if the turtles were real and if they could touch them. The turtles helped the children work on their sensory issues, behavioral plans, and socialization needs.

Another summer highlight for our middle school and high school youth was getting to work in our Special Grounds Coffee Company’s Roasting and Processing Rooms at our new Career Center (854 S. Shoop Ave., Wauseon). The kids got to measure coffee beans, label bags, create thank you notes for our customers, stamp coffee sleeves, and literally fill online coffee bean and ground coffee orders. In addition to these vocational skills and job training opportunities, the youth also worked on daily living skills like cooking special recipes, running the washer and dryer to do laundry, cleaning the career center and skills labs, and working on vocabulary development, communication techniques, customer service, and social-emotional interactions, explained a very proud Speech/Language Pathologist Katie Nelson.

To place your roasted bean or ground coffee order, log onto All proceeds help to support the vocational development and job placements of our special needs kids. Sara’s Garden also hopes to have its Special Grounds Coffee Shop open to the public soon, so our youth can personally serve you that fresh cup of coffee. Stay tuned for our upcoming Grand Opening!

But our special needs children and youth could not access these extraordinary services and programs without you, so we want to take a moment and thank as many schools, organizations, and groups as we can, who helped make this Summer Intervention Program another success. They included:

  • ESY through the following school districts—Archbold, Benton Carroll Salem, Liberty Center, Maumee, Perrysburg, Springfield, Stryker, Washington, and Woodmore,
  • Family Sponsorship Program through Sara’s Garden
  •  Post Adoption Special Services Subsidy (PASSS) Funding
  • Henry County Family and Children First Council (FCFC)
  • Board of Developmental Disabilities (DD) in Fulton, Henry, Lucas, and Williams Counties
  • Downs Syndrome Association of Greater Toledo (DSAGT)
  • Community Fund Ohio
  • Anne Grady Center
  • Avenues for Autism
  • Project iAM/Acoustics for Autism
  • Northwest Ohio Apraxia Support
  • Ohio Elks
  • The Megan Weisenbach Foundation
  • University of Toledo’s SLP Program and all of its dedicated graduate school students
  • And of course, many, many family and friends

THANK YOU SO MUCH for caring about and supporting our special needs kids as they work to become more and more independent, working to reach their full potential!

Michelle Nagle, director at our Springfield Campus, stated, “As usual, the Summer Intervention Program this year did not disappoint! After being involved in this program for the past five Summers, it never ceases to amaze me just how quickly the kids make positive gains and benefit from services over the Summer. Our staff has done a great job implementing our plans for each of the kids and developing relationships with those that are new to us. Both the kids and the staff had fun!”

For more information on our Summer Intervention Program, to register a child, or to find out how you can help support special needs children in Northwest Ohio, please call Admissions Coordinator Ronda Rupp at 419-335-7272 or log onto our web site at

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