In 2010, I founded Extreme Kids & Crew, a Brooklyn nonprofit dedicated to creating and maintaining beautiful spaces where families raising children with disabilities could meet, express themselves through the arts and movement, relax, and simply be. The program soon grew beyond our borough and beyond my ability to run it alone. By 2013, we had an honest to god executive director, Caitlin Cassaro, overseeing a great staff of thoughtful, creative, flexible aiders and abettors and an ever growing community of families. I served as President of the Board from 2010-2020 and remain a proud supporter.
Extreme Kids & Crew is unique in that it focuses not only on the child with disabilities but also on the parents and typically developing siblings. Participating families bring in children with a vast range of disabilities–autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing disorders, ADHD, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, blindness, deafness, learning disabilities, epilepsy, and more. What ties these families together is not the diagnosis of one its members, but the experience of being a different kind of family. Programs are pay-what-you-can so that all of these different families may take part, regardless of income. The atmosphere created by families bound together through love and disability is unusual, invigorating and thought provoking. It is the energy, hope and care generated by these families that makes the program great.