“Friends For Life” the respite program located at the YMCA

Briana Boateng with Alex Burns

OSWEGO, N.Y. — The Friends for Life program at the YMCA aims to provide recreational care for Oswego County for families of people with developmental disabilities. 

“It’s just fun. They’re just genuinely happy to see me, I’m happy to see them and we really have a good time,” program director Darci Michalski said as she explained her favorite part about working in the program. 

“A lot of them don’t have a lot of opportunities to go out and socialize with friends and we have that,” Michalski says as she recalls some growth she has witnessed from respite participants. 

Typical activities of the day at the program include a game of dodgeball in the gymnasium, video games, and art.

Alex Burns, who is a participant, says he enjoys drawing during his day at the program. 

“I learned that it is more fun to play together. I normally don’t go out as much but since I go here often I tend to go out more,”Alex shares, as he recalls some personal progress he’s made at the program.

Participant Colin Dawling demonstrated how he interacts with his peers using his DynaVox device. He reveals the different tools that assist him with his communication. He selects different words when he wants to express his thoughts, like when he says: “Hi my name is Colin Dawling ”. 

The Friends for Life Program continues to promote a fun and caring environment in order for participants to grow.