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Therapeutic Recreation & Inclusion

Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces welcomes persons with disabilities in all of our facilities, programs and events.

We have programs exclusively for children and adults with disabilities run by Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists. We also have an Inclusion Initiative in which we assist children and adults with disabilities in getting involved in typical programs not geared specifically for persons with disabilities.

If you are attending a public meeting and would like to request accommodations please call 305-755-7848. Persons displaying a handicap parking placard, a Disabled American Veteran license plate, a Wheelchair User Symbol license plate or a similar item from another state or country, receive free parking at all parks. This free parking does not include launching a boat.

The Miami-Dade County Paralympics' Partners is a collaboration of organizations throughout the county that work together to expand opportunities throughout Miami-Dade for children and adults with physical and visual impairment to participate in sports activities.

To request materials in accessible format, sign language interpreters, and/or any accommodation to participate in any Miami-Dade Parks sponsored program or meeting, contact Mary Palacios, 305-755-7848 or Mary.Palacios@miamidade.gov at least 7 days in advance to initiate your request. TTY users may also call 711 (Florida Relay Service).

The Leisure Access Foundation
The Leisure Access Foundation was created in 1991 to improve opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in quality leisure programs, both recreational and competitive. People with disabilities are a minority, who have historically been severely disadvantaged and overlooked in the area of recreation and leisure.

Many recreation activities require special instruction, wheelchairs or other equipment that can increase the cost of these programs to participants. The foundation was created to raise the funds to provide this extra funding.

The Leisure Access Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit agency.

You can help by contributing:

  • volunteer time at one of the events or programs
  • in-kind donations of sports/recreation equipment, t-shirts, food for events, etc.
  • monetary donations

To contact the Leisure Access Foundation please call 305-755-7848.

 

  • Beach Wheelchair and Pool Lifts

    Beach Wheelchairs
    Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department welcomes people with disabilities to its beautiful sandy beach areas. To assist those who are mobility impaired, special beach wheelchairs, have been placed at beach areas. Following are some recommendations for making your use of the beach chair more enjoyable:

    • Call ahead. Let our staff know when you'll be coming out. This will decrease waiting time. The chairs are available on a first come, first serve basis only. So although you've called, whoever gets there first gets the chair.
    • Bring a friend. The beach chairs cannot be self-propelled and Park staff are not able to provide assistance with transferring into, or pushing you around in the chair. So bring someone to assist you.
    • Keep track of time. Staff must store the chairs before they leave each day. Check with staff to know when you must return the chair. Haulover and Crandon: Apr.-Oct., 9 a.m. -6 p.m.; Nov.-Mar., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
    • Leave a deposit. There is no charge to use the beach chair, but you may be asked to leave something of value, (your wheelchair, driver's license, photo I.D., or keys, etc.) to ensure that the chair will be returned.
    • Watch where you're going! The beachchair can go into water no more than 6"" deep because the wheels are very buoyant, so stay near the shoreline.
    • The beach chair is in the greatest demand on Sunday afternoons. While there are four chairs at each of these locations, you may want to avoid this very busy time.
    • Keep us posted. Let us know how we can improve our access to people with disabilities. If you have an important comment regarding the beachchair, please call our Americans With Disabilities Act Coordinator at 305-755-7848.

     

     

     

  • Aquatic Programs

    Learn-to-Swim Program
    Miami-Dade Parks welcomes children and adults with disabilities in its swimming programs. If you need accommodation to participate, call 305-694-4889, ext. 250, or visit Learn-to-Swim.

    Youth Swimming
    Children ages 9-20 with physical disabilities have a great time during lap swimming for fun and exercise, located in A.D. Barnes Park. For more information call 305-694-4889, ext. 250.

    Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., $40 for 10 classes.

    Fitness Swimming
    Adults 18 and older with physical disabilities have a great time during lap swimming for fun and exercise, located in A.D. Barnes Park. For more information call 305-694-4889, ext. 250.

    • $40 for 8 classes or $150 for private classes.
  • Services for Adults

    The Leisure Access Center offers adults (21+) with intellectual/developmental disabilities a meaningful day of activities through the Life Skills Development 3 (ADT) Program, funded by Medicaid Waiver. Adult have the opportunity to develop independence and self-advocacy skills through the participation in recreational, fitness, educational and community integration activities Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Cost $120/week

    Sports and Fitness Programs

    We have year round sports training programs for adults 21 years and older with intellectual disabilities. Athletes will gain sportsmanship, independence and teamwork skills while improving fitness level. Athletes will have the opportunity to compete in team/individual Special Olympic disciplines and will rotate throughout the following sports:

    • Basketball
    • Track & Field
    • Soccer
    • Bowling
    • Softball
    • Swimming

    Monday – Friday 3:30 pm – 5 pm, cost $80/month, plus $15 registration fee.

    Leisure Access Center
    These programs are for adults with developmental disabilities who are 21 years and older at A.D. "Doug" Barnes Park. For more information, contact 305-665-5319 or email giselp@miamidade.gov.

    • Adult Day Training 
      Enjoy a rotating schedule of activities in fitness, arts & crafts, community trips, life, safety and independence skills, decision making, nutrition and more
      Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
      Cost: $120 weekly
    • Sports Training Program
      Learn a variety of sports like basketball, soccer, softball, swimming, bowling and track & field
      Monday - Friday, 3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.
      Cost: $80 month, $15 annual registration fee
    • Fun on Friday
      Participate in social programs with field trips and indoor activities, work on life and safety skills
      Fridays, 6 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. 
      Cost: $25 weekly, $15 annual registration fee
    • Saturday in the Park 
      Participate in social programs with field trips and indoor activities, work on life and safety skills
      Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
      Cost: $30 per week, $5-$15 annual registration fee

    Adaptive sports

    Handcyling for Youth and Adults with Physical Disabilities
    Physical conditioning and training using adapted handcycles. Staff and volunteers will coach athletes on this exciting sport! Equipment provided.

    • Tamiami Park, 11201 SW 24 St., Miami FL
      Contact 305.222.2128 or arleneb@miamidade.gov.

    Adapted Aquatics
    Learn to swim group lessons and for competition. For children 6 and older, with physical or visual disabilities. Call for appointment.

    • Palm Springs North Pool
      Dates: April through June
      Cost: $40 for a group session of 8 classes, plus $15 annual registration fee
      $150 for 8 Individual classes plus $15 annual registration fee
      Contact: 305.935.4588 or jthera@miamidade.gov.
    • AD Barnes Park
      Dates: April through June. Central Area, October- May
      Cost: $40 for a group session of 8 classes, plus $15 annual registration fee
      $150 for 8 Individual classes plus $15 annual registration fee
      Contact: 305-694-4889 or belinda.phillips@miamidade.gov
  • Services for Children

    Miami-Dade Parks' partnership with The Children's Trust helps provide year round after school and seasonal camp programs for children of all disabilities from for grades K-12.

    The Children's Trust after-school & summer camps

    After-school camps run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. for students in grades 6-12. Summer Camps run 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Programs are free but have a $15 registration fee.

    • Westwind Lakes Park, 6805 SW 152 Avenue, Miami, FL
      Contact: 305-380-9106, bphilli@miamidade.gov.
      Ages: Grades 6-12
    • Goulds Park, 13841 SW 120 Street, Miami, FL
      Contact: 305-234-1673, jsantia@miamidade.gov
      Ages: Grades 6-12
    • Gwen Cherry Park, 7090 NW 22 Avenue, Miami, FL
      Contact: 305-694-4889, belinda.phillips@miamidade.gov
      Ages: Grades 6-12
    • Tamiami Park, 11201 SW 24 Street, Miami, FL 
      Contact: 305-222-2128; arleneB@miamidade.gov
      Ages: Grades 6-12

    Specialty camps are offered to persons with disabilities ages 6-22. After-school camps run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. for students in grades 6-12. Summer Camps run 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Programs are $45 per week, plus a $15 registration fee.

    • Ojus Park, 18995 W Dixie Highway, North Miami, FL
      Contact: 305-935-4588; jthera@miamidade.gov
      Ages: 6-22
    • Camp Matecumbe, 13841 SW 120 Street, Miami, FL
      Contact: 305-752-4966; dbonet@miamidade.gov
      Ages: 6-22

    Specialized programs for children with disabilities

    Youth Art in the Park
    This program is an inclusive, socially-oriented arts program for children and youth, ages 6-17, with and without disabilities. This fun, educational program teaches visual arts in a social setting, led by professional art teachers and disability experts. Camps will run Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and cost $35. For more information, contact 305-576-1212 or email DIA@a4lmiami.org. 

    • Camp Matecumbe
    • Highland Oaks 
    • Miller Drive Park

    EXPLORE Exceptional People Learning through Outings and Recreation Education
    Program focuses on developing leisure interest as well as social and community skills through recreational experiences for children ages 6-14. Camps will run first and third Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Programs are $15 per session plus cost food or entrance fee depending on outing. For more information, contact 305-935-4588 or email thera.johnson@miamidade.gov.

    • Ojus Park

    LEAPS Leisure Education and Planning Skills
    Social outing program for teens and young adults, ages 15-25, with intellectual disabilities. Group activities and outings focus on developing independent living skills, social skills and community skills. Events are held the first and third Friday of the month from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Programs are $20 per session plus cost of food or entrance fee depending on outing. For more information, contact 305-752-4966 or email dbonet@miamidade.gov.

    • Westwind Lakes Park

    Sports Development Programs for Children with Disabilities:

    • Sports Programs for Children with Autism
      • Central Location: Tamiami Park, 11201 SW 24 St., Miami, FL 33165. Contact: Arlene Bouza-Jou, 305-222-2128
      • North Location: 18995 West Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33180
      • Thera Johnson, 305-935-4588
      • Description: This program is designed for children with autism 6 years of age and older. This event focuses on rotating Sports Programs for children with Autism. Sports include tennis, basketball, soccer, fencing, and others. $40 for eight group sessions plus $15 of annual registration fee.
  • Service Animal Policy

    Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department Service Animal Policy meets all of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes allowing persons with disabilities to use service animals in parks, inside park facilities, and during programs. With the exception of designated dog park areas, and designated dog friendly parks, pets are not allowed in Miami-Dade County Parks. Service animals are not pets. Policies banning dogs and pets from parks do not apply to service animals.

    A "service animal" is a well behaved dog trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The tasks may include, but are not limited to, guiding a person who is visually impaired or blind, alerting a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, pulling a wheelchair, assisting with mobility or balance, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, retrieving objects, or performing other special tasks. Therapy, comfort or emotional support animals are not service animals, and are not allowed in parks. No documentation is required to prove that a dog is a service animal.

    In accordance with local ordinance, service animals must be harnessed, leashed or tethered and must be under control. The only time a service animal may be off leash, harness or tether, is when being on it would inhibit the dogs ability to perform tasks for an individual with a disability. In that case the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. To confirm that a dog is a service animal, employees may ask whether the dog is a service animal or not, and they may ask what tasks the dog performs for the individual, but they may not ask the individual questions about disability. These questions are solely to confirm that the animal is a service animal.

    In accordance with state requirements, individuals training service animals have all of the privileges that persons with disabilities using service animals have. Persons with disabilities using service animals are allowed in any area that the public uses. This includes restaurants, nature centers, theatres, auditoriums, museums, beaches, pool facilities, spectator areas, campgrounds, fields, courts, etc. Although service animals are allowed on the pool deck and in the pool dressing rooms, service animals are not allowed in the actual pool.

    A fee may not be charged for a service animal to attend an event or activity. The individual using the service animal is responsible for any damage service animal causes, and can be charged for these damages, if damage would typically be charged to the user. Allergies and fear of animals are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to an individual using a service animal.

    Employees may exclude or remove a service animal, if the animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or if the animals presence fundamentally alters the nature of the program taking place. Employees may ask someone with a service animal to leave an area if the animal is disruptive, (barking during a performance), causes damage, (digging holes), or bothers others (excessive barking, aggressively approaches other visitors). If a service animal is excluded or removed for any of the reasons above, the employees must provide the individual with a disability the option of continuing access to the park, facility or program without having the service animal on the premises.

    Due to the need to address specific issues not common to general park areas, Zoo Miami has its own service animal policy. In limited circumstances, miniature horses may function as service animals. Miniature horses are less than 34'' tall, and must be house trained. The same requirements above pertain to miniature horse service animals.

  • Inclusion in other programs

    "Inclusion" refers to the inclusion of children or adults with disabilities in general programs, rather than in programs specifically created for children or adults with disabilities. 

    Would you like your child who has a disability to be included in a general program, rather than a program specifically for children with disabilities? 

    Miami-Dade Parks has designated Park Supervisors in each area of the county to assist parents in accommodating children with disabilities into typical recreation programs; seasonal camps and after-school activities. Each of these Supervisors has been trained in techniques to effectively include children with disabilities into general programs. They are also trained to utilize policies and procedures put in place specifically to guide staff in the inclusion process. 

    For inclusion information and questions contact the Disability Services at 305-755-7848.

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