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Recreational Therapy

Director: Rick Backer

Since 1972, physically and mentally disabled kids have utilized the Boys and Girls Club of the Berkshires in the exact same way as any other member.“It was unique for the times,” said Rick Backer, director of the Recreation Therapy Program at the club. “Jim Mooney was the superintendent and he believed strongly that special needs kids should be treated like every other member of the club.”More than 30 years ago, the program began by providing special needs members with activities a few afternoons a week and on Saturday morning. Since then, it has grown to a much larger program that includes summers spent at Camp Russell. In addition, transitional and vocational services help kids learn social skills and support school and part-time work endeavors. To help accommodate its philosophy of inclusion, both the club facility and Camp Russell are completely handicapped accessible.“It’s now part of the culture of the Boys and Girls Club,” Rick said of the special needs program. “Each member develops skills as successfully as they individually can.” The activities include cooking, games, swimming and sports. From time to time, special needs kids from other school districts also join the Pittsfield members to cook lunch together, socialize and develop a network. Rick noted that generous grants have helped fund the program, which includes door-to-door pickups from school to the club and a two-to-one staff/member ratio. “No one is left out because of cost,” he said. When the program switches to Camp Russell in the summer, the cabins and bathrooms are wheelchair accessible, and kids enjoy the same activities as all the campers.“This program started under Jim Mooney and has continued with Christopher, the current Executive Director,” Rick said. “The club does this because it’s the right thing to do. It was done because the mission of the club is to provide a safe and happy place for all youngsters, where they are given the help and guidance they need to become members of our community.”

The Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires and Pittsfield Public School’s Special Education Department collaborate to open
The REC Therapy Lighthouse Café!
Special education students from Pittsfield High School create the menu, shop, prep and prepare a variety of lunch menu items.
The Café is committed to serving excellent food choices at a reasonable cost
The Café is open to the general public Monday – Friday, 11:30AM to 1:00PM everyday school is in session.

Delivery in the Downtown area is available.
Please place orders for delivery by 10AM.
Contact Rick Backer at 413 329-6180



The Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires presents a new program. Friday Night Social Club. February 9, 16, March 9, 23 and April 6, 27. The hours are 6:00 to 8:30. Pickup should start at 8:15. Participants are middle and high school students who have I.E.P’s as part of their school program. Each participant will have to have a permission slip signed by a parent, guardian, outreach or case worker when they arrive. A desk in the main lobby will be available for signup each session. There is no cost for the program and each participant will be given a Boys & Girls Club Membership to see all the different kinds of programming available at the Club. Any Berkshire County resident may participate. Activities will be mostly held in the Lighthouse and include conversation, games and activities in the Pit, swimming, craft projects and skating (dates to be announced). Pizza and drinks will be available

(free of charge) during the evening.

If you have any questions please call Rick Backer 329-6180

October 2nd Menu

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