Dake Foundation for Children Announces Community Grant Recipients

[caption id="attachment_652" align="aligncenter" width="300"] (photo courtesy of Southern Adirondack Independent Living)[/caption]   SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – March 21, 2024 -- The Dake Foundation for Children has announced that five nonprofit organizations have been selected as the inaugural recipients of their newly formed Community Grants program. Founded by Gary Dake, President of Stewart’s Shops, the Foundation has provided grants to local children with disabilities since 2009 with a focus on inclusion, independence, and fun. In 2023, the organization announced plans to increase its impact by supporting local 501c3 nonprofit organizations seeking to make their spaces or programming more accessible and inclusive.   “In this first-time effort, our board of directors was so impressed with the thoughtful proposals we reviewed,” said Dake Foundation for Children Executive Director Sarah Burns. “Our nonprofit partners are invested in the betterment of our community and know firsthand the positive impact their spaces and programs will have with increased accessibility. Together, we are building more opportunities for all community members to experience independence, empowerment, and dignity.”   The Dake Foundation for Children’s Community Grants Program recipients are:  
  • Double H Ranch, Lake Luzerne, NY – Funding will support their Winter Adaptive Sports Program, providing winter recreation opportunities for children ages 6-16 with life-threatening and chronic illnesses.
  • Southern Adirondack Independent Living (SAIL), Queensbury, NY – Funding will be used to purchase Access Trax, equipment that makes events, beaches, parks, and other outdoor venues more accessible for wheelchair users.
  • Bring On The Spectrum, Albany, NY – Funding will support equipment and other necessities for their Autism Fitness Program.
  • Wilton Emergency Squad, Saratoga Springs, NY – Funding will purchase “Carter’s Kits” that contain items designed to help soothe and calm children with varying communication and sensory needs during their interactions with first responders.
  • Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Early Intervention, Bennington, VT – Funding will support the purchase of audiology equipment that will detect hearing loss in young children.
  This year, the Dake Foundation for Children is celebrating 15 years of service to the community, culminating in an anniversary celebration fundraiser on May 29, 2024 on the grounds of Saratoga Performing Arts Center.   For more information on the event, their grant programs, or to learn more about the Dake Foundation for Children, please visit their website at http://www.dakefoundation.org.
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Interview with Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

Executive Director Sarah Burns sat down with Amanda Blanton of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce for an interview discussion the Foundation's mission, programming, and upcoming events. Click play below to listen to the full interview! https://www.dakefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/4-30-23-Dake-Foundation.mp3  
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Dake Foundation for Children Welcomes New Executive Director

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – July, 13, 2022 -- The Board of Directors for the Dake Foundation for Children has announced a new executive director, Sarah Burns. She brings more than 15 years of non-profit experience to the Foundation, and her leadership has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for organizations across the Upstate region. For more than a decade, The Dake Foundation for Children has been helping local children with physical disabilities have more fun and independence. Founder Gary Dake, President of Stewart's Shops, realized that health insurance would fund “medical necessities” but would not approve recreational equipment or activities, and he vowed to work to close that gap. Since then, the Foundation has helped connect more than 330 children with adaptive bikes, tricycles, swings, strollers, and communication tools that allow them to have the fun, carefree experiences that every child deserves. "The Dake Foundation's mission and the families they serve have truly captured my heart," Burns said. "I feel a great responsibility toward ensuring that this incredible work continues, and I look forward to working with the Board on behalf of these very deserving kids." Burns will assume day-to-day operations for the organization and will lead their fundraising, marketing, and community engagement initiatives. "Sarah has worked closely with the Foundation over the last year and has demonstrated a passion for our mission which will serve her and the Foundation well moving forward," said Dake. Headshot of Sarah Burns For more information on the Dake Foundation and for the latest updates, visit www.dakefoundation.org and follow them on Facebook and Instagram. About the Dake Foundation for Children: The Dake Foundation for Children was established in 2009 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to help children with disabilities access opportunities unavailable through medical insurance and family budgets. Their goal is to provide children with disabilities access to equipment and services that will enable them to reach their fullest potential for participation within their families, communities, and with their peers.
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A young boy on the playground smiling

Tips and Resources to Create Safe and Accessible Backyards for Children with Autism

Play is essential to your child’s development. For children who are on the autism spectrum, play can be even more important for adapting sensory processes and enhancing social skills. This is why setting up dedicated spaces for children to play inside and outside of the home is also crucial to their health and well-being. In terms of outside of the home, the safest spot for play is often the backyard. For parents who want to create a secure and accessible backyard for their children, these top resources will also be essential.

Accessibility Tips for Backyards

Children who are on the autism spectrum can have varying degrees of developmental and physical disabilities, and their backyards should accommodate each one.
  • For parents who are starting from scratch, pouring wider walkways and adding ramps to decks may be necessary if their children are living with limited mobility.
  • In addition to accommodations for mobility, parents should also think about backyard features that are sensory-friendly, including landscaping that reduces noise.
  • Finally, in order to prevent children who are on the spectrum from wandering off, parents should research “fence companies near me” to get a secure fence installed.

Accessibility Tips for Play Equipment

In addition to creating accessible spaces, parents of children who are on the spectrum should also look for toys and equipment that will accommodate their child’s special needs.
  • Buying an accessible playhouse can elevate any backyard and provide a shaded sanctuary when children need a break.
  • Elevated sandboxes are another accessible outdoor option for parents to consider.
  • For children with visual impairments, adding tactile tape to playground equipment can make these areas safer and more accessible.

Sensory-Friendly Play Resources

As stated above, play is a core need for all children, and parents of children who are on the spectrum should find sensory-friendly and accessible outdoor activities for their backyards.
  • The meaning of “sensory-friendly” can be a bit perplexing for parents of newly diagnosed children but this term simply means that sensitivities have been taken into consideration.
  • Backyard science experiments are a good example of sensory-friendly outdoor play, and these activities can be educational as well.
  • Filling small pools with blankets and toys can also be a sensory-friendly outdoor activity.
  • Additionally, ball pits can provide sensory comfort for children on the spectrum.

Backyard Health and Safety Tips

Installing ramps and a fence can prevent injuries in children on the spectrum, but there are also more routine health and safety measures that parents will want to take in their backyards.
  • The risk of accidental drowning is exponentially greater for children with Autism, so it’s vital that parents supervise children even when small amounts of water are present.
  • Regular cleaning of play equipment and toys, including tents and tunnels, will prevent children from being exposed to potentially harmful germs and bacteria.
  • Parents should also check their backyards for hazards, including poisonous plants, toxic garden chemicals and potentially dangerous tools.
We hope the resources in this guide will help you put together a backyard that your children can’t wait to spend time in each day! Getting outside for some fresh air can support the health of your entire family. The Dake Foundation for Children is dedicated to providing children with disabilities the tools they need to become independent and enjoy life. Learn how you can support our mission. Photo Credit: Pixabay
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Young boy in his adaptive swing

Thank you from Ryan Keefe

We would like to thank you for approving Ryan’s adaptive swing! Now that spring is here we put it up and it’s perfect. He loves it. Thank you again for all that you do for families like ours. We really appreciate it. Happy Spring. Love, Ryan and The Keefe Family
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