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Recreational Therapy

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.”

Director: Rick Backer


Lighthouse Cafe

The Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires and Pittsfield Public School’s Special Education Department collaborate to run 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, 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM every day school is in session. Delivery in the Downtown area is available.

Please place orders for delivery by 10 AM. Contact Rick Backer at (413) 329-6180. 

Friday Night Social Club

The Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires is pleased to announce the reopening for its second year of the Recreational Therapy Friday Night Social Club.  The program provides a positive recreational and social environment for students having disabilities with a current IEP and attending either middle or high school.

Students are assisted in making activity choices but are allowed to utilize the Boys & Girls Club. Activities include music/dancing, social conversation, craft and woodworking activities, swimming, and organized games in the famous Pitt and pizza, wings and spring water in the Lighthouse.

Hours are 6:00 PM to 8:15 PM. Entrance by the Lighthouse next to the old CYC parking lot. There is no cost to the program but a registration form is required to attend.  

Please call Jim Mazzer at (413) 446-6465 or Kathrine Ferris at (413) 446-7253 with any questions.

Safe, positive recreational and social fun!

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