TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — For more than 20 years a one of a kind summer program in Tucson is helping students with special needs get the support they need to succeed.
Music is playing inside Sunnyside High School as kids sing, dance and learn that yo si puedo.
"In these three weeks we have, we’re trying to get everything up to speed for the school year for these kids," said Sharon Adela the co-coordinator of theYo Si Puedo summer program for students with learning disabilities.
"We called it Yo Si Puedo because I went to a staffing and we had a wonderful boy that couldn’t speak and people were just in front of him going down all the lists of things he could not do," Adela said.
But the therapy program wants to focus on what these kids can do.
"So we have some TUSD kids this year but we’ve also had kids from alter valley and from Vail and from Nogales," said Adela.
Kids like 14-year-old Isaac Garcia. "He is autistic. So he enjoys it a lot," said Isaac’s mother, Leslie Jaime.
She said they have been part of the summer program since her son was in elementary school
"This program helps them a lot even during the summer in case they kind of forget stuff," Jaime said. An important part of the program especially after an entire school year of learning at home.
"So this is his first time coming back and he really likes it now because he’s interacting with his friends," said Jaime.
Adela said, " And we’re trying to get them back under the experience of being able to communicate with somebody other than mom and dad and their brothers and sisters."
Getting back to school ready and back in zone with their communication devices means these students can talk about many things. "Can talk about their favorite subjects. Can talk about whether they’re feeling nervous or frustrated or happy," Adela added.
Listening is key. "If you don’t take the time and listen, you never find out who they are," Adela said.
She hopes the community can take the time to do the same. "What we need more than anything from people really, in this area of support for families with kids with communication challenges, is for people to listen to them to expect that they have something to say," Adela said.
Yo Si Puedo a bilingual and bi cultural program. Adela said this is also the only summer program of its kind in the state that has funding from agencies like United Cerebral Palsy and the state as well as school districts.