2740 College Avenue
Conway, AR 72034
Mission Statement: Community Connections was created to provide extra-curricular activities for children with disabilities and support for their families.
Overview: Community Connections is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities and their families by providing extra-curricular activities for children with all types of disabilities. Specific programs include:
- ACTS Jr.: ACTS Jr. is a creative program designed to integrate children ages seven to seventeen with and without disabilities together through the use of performing arts. The program focuses on the process rather than the product of creating a dramatic performance, allowing the performers to build on previously learned skills while also gaining new ones. Sessions occur once per week and culminate in child-driven performances held in the fall and spring. ACTS Jr. is led by occupational therapists, occupational therapy students, and youth volunteers from the community.
- First Tee Golf: Community Connections provides a golf program for children ages seven to seventeen with special needs. The purpose of the program is to teach kids the game of golf in a positive, encouraging environment. The golfers spend time each day in the classroom learning the rules and etiquette of golf, then take their skills onto the course. Golfers are taught by the instructors at The First Tee and assisted by the Community Connections staff. The First Tee charges a nominal fee for the instructors and equipment but gives a generous discount to Community Connections kids. Golf is offered in weeklong camps held over the summer months at The First Tee of Central Arkansas location in Little Rock.
- Marital Arts: The Martial Arts program provides children ages seven and older the opportunity to learn Martial Arts. The program, which begins this year on Saturday, October 13, will meet the second Saturday of every month until the first of the year, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Classes will be held at Gran Master Hans in Conway. All classes will be free but every child must wear a uniform, which can be purchased at Gran Master Hans.
- RUFL Football: The Rivals United Flag Football League (RUFL) was started by a group of football fans who wanted to ensure all children, including kids with disabilities, would have the opportunity to play the game. Kids ages seven to seventeen can practice drills and play games on Monday nights in the fall. Each child playing RUFL gets a chance to play quarterback, kicker, offense, and defense. RUFL is run by coaches and volunteers who encourage and assist the players. RUFL also offers a summer camp, where kids can participate in drills and learning exercises and enjoy a guest speaker each day. This year, RUFL Summer Camp will be held July 10 through July 12 from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the UCA Pepsi Center in Conway. Community Connections charges a $40 camp fee but assistance is available if needed.
- Showstoppers Cheerleading: Showstoppers Cheerleading is offered through Community Connections for children with special needs. The program gives young girls and boys the opportunity to cheer on a squad with peers and highlight their individual abilities. Kids ages four to eighteen can participate in cheer clinics to learn routines and then perform at TOP Soccer and RUFL Football games, as well as at an annual national cheer competition. Showstoppers Cheerleading is free of charge to the families of children with special needs.
- The Dyslexia Project: Community Connections offers screening and tutoring to children with dyslexia. The Dyslexia Project’s mission is to empower children to become all they are capable of being, by helping them to learn to read, using methods based on research by the National Institute of Health.
The following activities are held at Community Connections’ I CAN! Arts and Resource Center, located at 1040 Angel Court, Little Rock, Arkansas 72206 in the East End Community of Saline County:
- Adapted Disc Golf: Disc golf is played much like traditional golf, but instead of a ball and clubs players use a flying disc. A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target.
- I CAN! Dance: The class includes but is not limited to children ages four to seventeen with Spina Bifida, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and autism. The class gives children the opportunity to perform on the stage. I CAN! Dance includes “Dancing Buddies”—traditional dancers who provide one on one attention for children who need extra assistance to learn the routine, propel a wheelchair, move their arms, or keep focused.
- I CAN! Make Music: This upcoming class will introduce participants to the four families of the orchestra, including live demonstrations of instruments. Participation with rhythm instruments, listening activities, and musical games will also be incorporated to help students enjoy learning new musical skills. The class will also use Music Buddies, children without disabilities, to assist in the class.
- My Art: My Art is a free art class for children ages seven to twelve with special needs. This class allows children to explore their creativity in a positive, encouraging environment, while simultaneously allowing them to explore their senses in new and exciting ways. Each week students have the opportunity to explore a new artistic medium, including acrylic paint, watercolor, colored pencil, crayon, charcoal, and craft materials. Projects are designed to challenge the students both physically and creatively.
- TOP Soccer: TOP Soccer is an adapted soccer program for children with special needs ages three to seventeen. TOP Soccer provides children the opportunity to participate in an organized soccer program in a safe, positive environment. The program is designed to give everyone a chance to play and to foster the values of teamwork, pride, and accomplishment. Volunteers act as “buddies” for those who need assistance. Players are separated by age and ability to create an equal environment for everyone. The Top Soccer season includes six weeks of Saturday practices and a final Saturday game.
Community Connections also offers support groups and resources:
- Young Adults With Autism: The Young Adults With Autism support group provides individuals ages fifteen to twenty-five with autism spectrum disorders an opportunity to share experiences with others that have the same diagnoses. The group’s goals are to socialize, form friendships, engage in activities, and enjoy outings together. Young Adults With Autism meets the first Saturday of each month from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Faulkner County Library in Conway.
- Project: ELI: Project: ELI (Every Life Inspires) is a video that will be distributed to OB/GYNs, pregnancy crisis centers, hospitals, and other organizations to give to families who are expecting a child with spina bifida. The purpose is to give these couples hope, encouragement, and advice from families who have been in their shoes. Project: ELI is not meant to be a substitute to medical information, but is a compliment to the information the family will receive from their team of medical professionals.
Age Groups Served: 5+
Diagnoses Served: ALL types of delays and disabilities
Geographic Areas Served: Faulkner County, Pulaski County, and Saline County.