The weather forecast doesn't look very promising. The Special Therapies staff keeps an eye on the thermometer as the temperature rapidly rises. Although it's only early June, temps are expected to hit the mid 90's by late morning with a sweltering heat index registering around 105 degrees. Some decisions will need to be made about the day's activities.
During the summer months, when school isn't in session, the Special Therapies staff at Cunningham creates an activity plan that keeps our youth growing and learning, even when they aren't in the classroom. Many of the planned activities are designed to get them moving and to instill the benefits of life long physical fitness. Physical activity also helps our youth cope with their emotional and behavioral challenges by giving them a productive physical outlet; it lets them burn off a little steam!
Such activity in extreme temperatures, however, can have the exact opposite effect. Many of our kids at Cunningham have behaviors that are exacerbated by heat. As their bodies warm up, they lose focus and a sense of control and begin to act out. Soon, as the entire group begins to respond to their discomfort, the activity loses its purpose and benefit.
The plan for this particular day includes interactive team sports like basketball, volleyball and badminton. Because it is too hot for these activities outside, the logical choice is to move them into the Cunningham gymnasium. But our decades-old gymnasium isn't the answer either. Without air conditioning, the gym is even hotter than the outside temperature. The decision is made to move the activities to the only building on campus with a large enough space and air conditioning; the Chapel in the Spiritual Life Center. It isn't a perfect solution. The Chapel space has its limitations; but it will have to do.
The location change is frustrating for both our youth and our instructors. There are no basketball hoops in the Chapel, so that activity is out. Volleyball is a little aggressive for the space, too. The only choice left is badminton. But even with that, the net can't be as high as the game requires.
The events of that June day remind us of the importance of having the new Education and Recreation Center (ERC) built on the Cunningham campus. The 50,000 square foot facility will not only have school classrooms but also spaces specifically for special therapies including music, art, and physical education. The Lou and Mary Henson Gymnasium will be state-of-the-art and usable regardless of the weather outside. Our Special Therapies Staff will be better equipped to plan a program with confidence and our youth will be able to count on participating in the activities that they love and look forward to.
Cunningham Children's Home is currently conducting a campaign to raise $8.5 million for construction of the ERC. To date, we have met 58.1% of our goal thanks to the generosity of many churches, UMW groups, businesses, community organizations, and individuals but we still have $3.5 million left to raise.
If you or your group would like to make a contribution to the campaign, please contact Tim Manard, Development Officer, at 217-337-9071 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.