Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Sequoia Kids to turn social during school year

After the success of Camp Sequoia’s first summer, Narberth resident Ryan Wexelblatt began to get a few phone calls. Parents of children with social-cognitive challenges told Wexelblatt they noticed their children’s skills improved while at camp; when parents tried other activities, the results weren’t the same.

Sequoia Kids to turn social during school year

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Ryan Wexelblatt heads Sequoia Kids, which he founded. Wexelblatt began working with children as a camp counselor at the Jewish Community Center in Wynnewood before getting his master´s degree from Bryn Mawr College´s School of Social Work.
Ryan Wexelblatt heads Sequoia Kids, which he founded. Wexelblatt began working with children as a camp counselor at the Jewish Community Center in Wynnewood before getting his master's degree from Bryn Mawr College's School of Social Work. (Ashley Nguyen / Philly.com)
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After the success of Camp Sequoia’s first summer, Narberth resident Ryan Wexelblatt began to get a few phone calls. Parents of children with social-cognitive challenges told Wexelblatt they noticed their children’s skills improved while at camp; when parents tried other activities, the results weren’t the same.

“Every phone call I would get from parents would be, ‘My kid did this social skills group, and it didn’t work,’” Wexelblatt said.

Wexelblatt said he had no choice but to implement a program using the same Social Thinking methods utilized at Camp Sequoia during the school year for the surrounding area. In December, he’ll begin a five-week program at Rosemont School of the Holy Child in Bryn Mawr.

“One of the things the parents started bringing up with me is that we needed to have something to do during the year,” Wexelblatt said. “For a lot of our kids, initiating play dates doesn’t happen naturally.”

“The parents wanted this, and I couldn’t say no,” he added.

The five-week session will cost $500 and begin Dec. 4. For three hours every other Sunday, Wexelblatt will work to foster children’s social skills. Accompanying trips to places the kids "can't isolate themselves," also will be included, he said.

Since the program is geared for children ages 8-14 who are bright but diagnosed with ADHD, a nonverbal learning disorder, Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism, Wexelblatt said it fits an unfulfilled niche in the area.

“We’re in this area where the culture is very much about high academic achievement,” Wexelblatt said. “A lot of people put a lot of emphasis on that and figure as long as my kids are doing well academically, everything will work out. The reality is, a lot of these kids get to college, and they don’t last very long. This helps them learn to communicate socially.”

To learn more about Sequoia Kids or if you’d like to register for the program, call 610-771-0111 or email office@sequoiakidsprogram.com.

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About this blog
Josh Fernandez is a 2011 graduate of Temple University where he studied journalism and gender studies. He was a writer and editor for The Temple News, and has interned at Philadelphia City Paper and the Philadelphia Daily News. Josh lived in Aston, Pa. in Delaware County before moving to University City in Philadelphia.

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