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Milford program aims to provide caring, support | FOX61 Student News

They offer many of different activities for participants to take part in, providing them with a variety of diverse options.
Credit: Jonathan Law High Milford
Milford MAPS program

MILFORD, Conn. — Story by Macie Rascoll - Jonathan Law High School 

Do you enjoy yoga, karaoke, acting, fitness - and making slime? 

The Milford Recreation Department recently teamed up with the staff of Camp Happiness, a camp which focuses on those with special needs and disabilities, but is also open to campers of all varieties, to provide these services and many more. 

The service is called Milford Adaptive Programs - MAPS for short. 

MAPS hopes to provide this community with a caring, supportive environment in which this group can fit in and also have tons of fun. The MAPS program takes place at the Fannie Beach Center in Woodmont, a borough of Milford. 

 It was established last fall and has been up and running ever since. The coordinator of this program is Marlene Sanchez. She has been the director of Camp Happiness since 1991 and has been a part of the camp for a total of 45 years. 

Another one of the main leaders and creators of the MAPS program is Michelle Vitelli. Vitelli has been a member of the Camp Happiness community for 25 years, from being a camper at age three to currently working there at age 28.

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 “I love MAPS,” Vitelli said. “It has been an absolute passion project. It started because we really wanted there to be more options for kids for after-school programs. I tell this story often: When I was a kid, I had a lot of opportunities. I got to do ballet some nights, I played basketball, but it was all up to me. We found out through our Camp Happiness community that some kids were not getting as many opportunities or choices. So we got together and came up with a plethora of clubs for kids to choose from. The kids get choice and I think there’s a lot of power and agency in choice.” 

MAPS has seasonal sessions but takes place year round. They offer a ton of different activities for participants to take part in, providing them with a variety of diverse options depending on what they like. 

Another creator and leader of the program is Emily Nolan. She has been a member of the Camp Happiness community for 18 years. “So I joined MAPS so our kids who come to Camp Happiness during the summer would have access to club programming that typical kids have throughout the school year that they might not be able to participate in because of their exceptional needs," Nolan said. "I became a part of MAPS to give them those opportunities.” 

This is a program really spreading awareness and putting Milford on the MAP.

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