E-Programs: Transforming the Special Needs Community

These “Exceptional Programs” are more than exceptional! They really do change the lives of so many families whom they serve. With more than one-fifth of U.S. households having at least one child with special needs according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is such a major need in our society, yet it’s so often overlooked.

Our E-Programs are here to meet those needs. E-Karate and E-Soccer are designed to give children with special needs a chance to build relationships with peers both with and without special needs, while teaching these kids that fitness can be fun. Social skills and athletic skills are dually developed. And we have a blast while doing so!

Soccer Brings Out the Best of Inclusion

It was 13 years ago in April 2000, when Russ Ewell brought out his kids on a Saturday morning to play soccer with a few other friends and families, some with special needs and some without. Russ has a son with autism and a son with Down syndrome, and both of them were able to enjoy a little exercise, great friendships, and an overall fun time. From what started out as a small family gathering on the fields of Bowditch Middle School in Foster City, came a phenomenal program that the world was looking for–E-Soccer.

What was amazing about E-Soccer’s beginning was that the families and kids involved didn’t fully realize their extraordinary example of inclusion, or the far-reaching impact that was soon to come. But sure enough, week after week, more and more families brought out their kids and E-Soccer was born.

Kids helping kids was the prevailing theme. Kids with special needs were benefiting from their peers and learning social interaction and developmental skills. Kids without special needs were learning character, leadership, empathy, sacrifice, and service… They may have benefited more than their peers whom they were helping!

The families bonded, the kids bonded, the volunteers bonded, and E-Soccer grew and thrived. It became a shining model for other E-Programs: E-Karate, E-Hoops, and E-Fitness.