SMYTH COUNTY, Va. - A five-week program that gives 100 students with special needs a special place to go has lost its funding.
"Over the years our program has grown and grown. We now have from ages one to 21, children of all ages and all disabilities," said Dianne Tibbs, director of summer enrichment.
Tibbs says the program keeps the kids moving physically and mentally. "They don't sit at home and vegetate. They get off the couch and go swimming and go to the playgrounds. They're read to and talked to," she said.
Tonya Perkins, a former student of the program, knows first-hand how important it is. "I honestly don't know where I'd be without it," said Perkins. "It was a great experience. Great people, fun activities. Basically a great program."
She tells us after graduating high school, she didn't want to return as a student, but as a volunteer. "These kids get this program and I come away with a great feeling that I got to help my community," said Perkins.
But Tibbs says all of the fun could come to an end after not getting all of the grants they were hoping for. "The funding was cut in half and that was a big cut to the budget," said Tibbs.
She says the funding primarily goes towards certified staff. "When you have children with special needs, we feel like we need a lot of qualified type people," said Tibbs.
She says they're missing over $7,000 and they're uncertain where they'll get it from.
Tibbs tells us they'll continue one day at a time until they can't anymore. "We've had 40 years. I'd hate to see it end, but it might actually end," she said.
Tibbs tells us they plan to hold a softball fundraiser on August 17 at the Adwolfe ball fields.
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