Extra Special People Enhancing the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something;and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Helen Keller
A Message from the Executive Director Sometimes you choose your job, other times it chooses you. At 20 years of age, I wasn’t sure why the job as Executive Director of Extra Special People, Inc., had chosen me. Thrown into the position, I was without the skill set and experience. But, I knew I had a mission to improve the lives of kids with special needs. I believed that with a mission, a dream and the drive to change lives, anything was possible. It was three years later that I sat in the hospital room with a widowed father of one of our ESP campers, Caleb. He was bleeding internally. As this father cradled his 13-year-old son with a developmental disability in his arms, he told his story. “The first five years of Caleb’s life I was a traveling, withdrawn, and hard-working father. I was afraid of my son’s disability and too intimidated to communicate with him. One day, I had a realization while sitting in the bed of a hotel room. I realized that I was not here on earth for Caleb, Caleb was here for me. It was in that moment that I quit my job and began to get to know Caleb. A short time later, I tragically became a single father when my wife was killed in a car accident.” In that experience, I realized why my job chose me: to enhance the lives of children with disabilities as they change the lives of people without disabilities. I realized that these children are here for the rest of us. They teach us to love life in its truest and purest form – in relationships, memories and love. There is a favorite song we sing and sign at ESP Camp. It is called “World’s Greatest” I am a mountain Just stand up tall look ‘em in the face and say: I am a tall tree I’m that star up in the sky I am a river I’m that mountain peak up high Down in the valley Hey, I made it I am a vision I’m the worlds greatest And I can see clearly And I’m that little bit of hope If anybody asks you who I am When my back’s against the ropes I can feel it. I’m the worlds greatest! This message could not be any more appropriate for the individuals at ESP. We need them to teach us the way life is meant to be lived. I invite you to become a partner with us in this venture, to provide opportunities for children with disabilities. And in doing so, may you learn from them. You can change our community alongside the world’s greatest – the heroes – the children of ESP.Laura is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in SpecialEducation with a concentration in Autism. She began her relationship with Extra Special People, Inc., as a counselor. InJanuary 2006, Laura was selected as the Executive Director following the sudden death of the founder, Martha Wylliein 2004. Laura has been awarded the Super Citizen Award, the 40 Under 40 Award by the Athens Banner Herald, andthe Community Four-Way Test Award by the Rotary Club of Oconee County. She is a member of L.E.A.D. Athens Classof 2012, the Oconee County Civitan Club, and the Athens Church of Christ. She also enjoys her role as a wife to husbandJoseph and mother to Owen Patrick.
Our MissionESP empowers children with developmental disabilities to cultivate skills, self-confidence,and relationships through recreational therapy, community involvement, and the arts.With the support of volunteers and donors, the ESP team gives participants and theirfamilies acceptance, hope, and the opportunity to not just survive, but to thrive. ESP’s Board of Directors... Leaders Who Care Joe Moon Carter Strickland Chris Griner Joan Baird Buddy Barfield Chairman Campaign Chair Treasurer Board Member Board Member Sallyanne Barrow Jake Berton Toni Swan Allison Nealy Courtney Davis Board Member Board Member Board Member Board Member Board Member Steve Mason Beth Page Chuck Toney Chuck Williams Board Member Board Member Board Member Board Member “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Our Heritage Extra Special People, Inc., is the legacy of one woman who had a passion for children and young people with special needs, and a vision of a place where they and their families could focus on their abilities instead of their disabilities. Martha Wyllie founded ESP in 1986, offering high-quality affordable programs for “people with different abilities.” Twenty-one children enrolled in that first summer camp, which operated on a budget of $20,000. By the time Martha died in 2004, ESP was serving 130 campers with a budget of $150,000 and had acquired a small facility where children could be served on-site. The year following Martha’s death, ESP Summer Camp was in danger of being eliminated because of lack of funding. When a young camp counselor, Laura Whitaker, heard this, she pulled together the families and made a call to the community to save camp by raising $50,000 in just a matter of months. The founder’s family appointed Laura as the new Executive Director in January of 2006. Since becoming Executive Director, Laura has led ESP to expanded programming, and the organization now serves more young people than ever before.
How We Make a DifferenceESP CampSummer Camp is a seven-week program currently serving more than 115 young people with disabilities. Thecamp provides continuous learning as well as social and recreational opportunities. ESP Summer camp offers a2:1 counselor ratio, which affords much-needed attention and support to our campers. Camp features a varietyof activities that create opportunities for each camper to build confidence and independence, while supplyingtheir families with a much-needed respite.Year-Round ActivitiesESP Club!ESP Club meetings are held one Saturday per month for children with disabilities aged 4-15.There are a variety of activities each month including sports and games, art therapy, musictherapy, lunch and special holiday activities.NKANKA (also known as No Kids Allowed), is a twice monthly outing for ESP’s older members.NKA provides opportunities for social interaction, recreation and supervised outings inthe community.Super SkillsThe goal of the Super Skills group is to teach students with Asperger’s Syndrome andhigh-functioning autism a social skills curriculum focused on direct instruction in socialbehaviors that most people learn through life experiences.Family ConnectionESP hosts a variety of opportunities for families to meet each other, such as an annual holiday dinner and familybowling nights. Parents’ Night Out is an evening when caretakers can be assured that their children are beingcared for at the ESP facility while they have much-needed respite. ESP also provides educational programs asneeded to aid families on Medicaid Waiver information and disability research-based best practices classes.After-School ActivitiesESPicassos: Art therapy is shown to give individuals with disabilities another gatewayof communication along with increasing various physical, social and emotional skills.Our art students – the ESPicassos – create works of art using various mediums and thenwork with ESP staff to plan an exhibit of their works at the Sciences & Arts Gallery atAthens Academy.ESPiranhas: The Extra Special Piranhas are ESP’s very own swim team. Whether theyare training for Special Olympics or simply enjoying the water, ESP provides opportunitiesthroughout the year for our independent swimmers to increase their skills while spendingtime with their friends and learning the importance of teamwork.ESProuts: The ESP Yoga Sprouts promote a fun and safe environment wherechildren with disabilities are guided through movements that develop physicalstrength and flexibility, improve concentration, reduce hyperactivity, cultivateconfidence and self-esteem, enhance self-control and relaxation, refine creativityand increase cognitive and motor skills.
At ESP, it’s not about what they can’t do...IT’S ABOUT WHAT THEY CAN!“For seven years we watched Megan’s behavior worsen and become more aggressive.Then we found ESP. For the first time in years, we have hope for our daughter!” “Our children want the same things other children want. A chance to be loved and accepted for who they are, to become all they can be, to be a respected part of our community. ESP does that.” “Of all the programs we have tried, ESP has been the most beneficial to our daughter’s growth, development and happiness.”Thriving! Because ESP provides services for the family entity – focusing on abilities and building confidence – individuals with disabilities do not simply exist, they thrive.“Once you’ve experienced ESP, you’ll never be the same!”“Laura and the staff at ESP do not see limitations for our children, only theirpotential. Their efforts amaze the families of campers and encourage usto look outside our box and stretch for our children.” “I cannot express in words the comfort I feel when Janna attends ESP events. It is such a joy to know that she has her ESP family for support.” “At ESP, it feels that everything is going to be all right. We are welcomed for who we were and most of all, accepted! I feel so at home with ESP!”
“Do not cast me into an eternity of total dependency, or lure me into a world of fantasy. Certainly, I have a disability, and I do not deny its reality. Nevertheless, I must not resign to a life of pity, or reside on the fringes of society.” William E. Lightbourne
Opportunity Knocks... Look forward.Think big. Opportunity knocks. You can hear it when you look into the eyes of our children. You can see it in the relieved expressions of moms and dads. You can sense it in the disappointment on the face of a parent who has just been told, “We don’t have room for your child.” The vision of a new facility in the rolling fields of Oconee County is the dream of our students, their parents, and their counselors alike. Opportunity indeed knocks. Sometimes, in the case of this defining opportunity, it pounds. Please listen! No one can make your choice… but you. Will you respond to this opportunity and help ESP achieve its Great Dream? As you review the next few pages, consider the impact you could have on the lives of the children and families we serve. Ask yourself what part you can play in this defining opportunity. Then, listen to your heart. Listen to your reasoning as you consider how you should respond to the real needs of children with disabilities and their families. Hear how, together, we can lift children to move beyond their limitations and really achieve something more in life. Let’s look forward and think big… together.
The DreamAccording the Georgia Department of Education, there are almost 50,000 children in the state of Georgia thatcould be properly served by Extra Special People. In its present state, ESP does an excellent job of providingservices to a very limited number of local children and families... but for every two children ESP serves, one child must be turned away.There is a profound need within the greater region for quality services that provide unique opportunitiesfor education, recreation and socialization. Families in the region are desperate for programs and activitiesthat provide quality care for their children with disabilities and respite from the daily rigors of caring fortheir children. With ESP’s Three-Year Plan, the organization is poised to have a greater capacity to serve children and families in surrounding counties as well as those we are currently serving locally.Increased program capacity...- 50% increased enrollment for those programs currently available.- Additional programs for those we currently serve and for those waiting.- Afterschool Program- Bridge of Family Support- Sibling Support- Regional Team Sports and OpportunitiesAn Endowment Fund to Ensure Sustainability for Generations to Come…A properly funded Endowment means that ESP can help children thrive for decades to come.A New Building at a New Location...Our present facility and property has served us well for two decades. However, it no longer adequately supportsour present programming, and certainly not the vision for the future of the children and families. With 10 acresand a 25,000 square foot fully accessible building, ESP can begin to provide space for activities that greatlyenhance the lives of those we serve and for those that are waiting.- Music Art & Therapy Rooms - Therapy rooms for Private Therapists- Teaching Kitchen - Classroom Space- Wheelchair Accessible Garden - Family Counseling Space- Sensory Room - Changing Rooms for Children in Wheelchairs- Sports Fields
ESP 3 YEAR FINANCIAL PLANProgram ExpansionCapital InvestmentsEndowment
“Extra Special People allows the opportunity to positively impact and facilitate change in our community. It’s a chance totouch the lives of someone you know or someone in need. Theleadership of ESP has been steadfast in its dedication to helping children with developmental disabilities as well as helping their families and educating the public about the wonderful qualities of these very special children. With ESP you can be guaranteed your dollars go directly into meaningful programming and directly impact the children, the families and the community.” Carter Strickland - Campaign Chair “A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities.” William Arthur Ward
“Placing one foot in front of the other, I’ve climbed to higher lengths, reaching beyond my own limitations, to show my inner strength. No obstacle too hard, for this warrior to overcome. I’m just a man on a mission, to prove my disability hasn’t won.” Robert M. Hensel Physical address: 189 VFW Dr. Watkinsville, GA 30677 (706) 254-4850Mailing Address: P.O. Box 615 Watkinsville, GA 3067 www.ExtraSpecialPeople.com