One of Jacob Donham’s favourite ways to relax is to blow bubbles.

IRON MINES: For the past 24 summers, L’Arche Cape Breton has had the privilege of organizing the Ride the Wave summer program, which is a day camp for school-aged youth with intellectual disabilities.

For the month of July, participants from Mabou, Port Hood, and Judique met at Dalbrae Academy where they had the use of a large learning centre, sensory room, kitchen, gymnasium and the Alexander Doyle Public Library, as well as a mini-putt course and track behind the school.

For the month of August, participants from Whycocomagh, Orangedale and West Lake Ainslie travelled to the same location to use the wonderful facilities. A total of 11 participants registered throughout the summer, ranging in age from seven to 16 years of age.

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The program is able to operate because of the generous 50/50 recreation grant program offered by the Municipality of the County of Inverness, as well as donations from local businesses and the local Community Health Board.

Ride the Wave summer program is one of seven day programs of L’Arche Cape Breton. It employs three young people from Inverness County. This summer they also began a brand-new volunteer program that enabled youth to get involved and have some fun at the same time. One volunteer committed over 20 hours this summer, and are hoping to expand this program in the years to come.

Brando Bugbee enjoyed the swings.

The program gives youth with intellectual disabilities from across Inverness County a chance to take part in many fun and engaging activities that they may not have the chance to participate in once school is out. This summer there were five themes, one for each day of the week. These included days focused on music and dance, technology, science-based activities, hiking, and spending time outside. These themes were selected based on the collective interests of participants.

Josh Donham loved his day at the beach.

Many outdoor excursions included spending time at the many wonderful playgrounds in Inverness County, exploring the well-maintained trail systems, and spending time at the Port Hood and West Mabou beaches. Throughout the summer, participants who may have been too shy or nervous to try new activities or travel to other areas at the beginning of the program built enough confidence over the summer that they were generally very willing and excited when a new idea or place is introduced to them.

This is the only recreational program for youth with intellectual disabilities in Inverness County and it enabled participants to take part in many activities that others their age tend to take for granted. There was positive feedback from parents of the participants at the end of the summer and they were extremely thankful to have this opportunity for their children to take part in the program.