Barren Heights Retreat Brings Families Together
Barren Heights Christian Retreat Center Brings Families Together
Respite is often viewed as time away from the demands of caring for a child with special needs. Barren Heights Christian Retreat Center in Scottsville, Kentucky, has found a way to make respite a family affair. The ADA compliant cabin campground and recreational facilities near Barren River Lake were built to host mini-vacation style retreats that strengthen families that have one or more child with a physical or developmental disability.
Called to Serve
Barren Heights is unique amongst organizations offering services for families with special needs children. Joe and Toni Rose, the founders, do not have a child with special needs. Why did they decide to convert their family vacation property to serve in such a specific manner?
“We saw a need and wanted to do what we could to fill it. We have tremendous respect for parents and caretakers of children with disabilities – they are often physically taxed and emotionally drained in unique ways. We felt that those families could use a weekend getaway at a facility that was designed with their specific needs in mind.”
Families Helping Families
A volunteer host couple or family is assigned to each of the three guest families spending a weekend at the retreat. Their volunteer service begins when they review their guests’ detailed registration packet. They then call to discuss the needs and goals of each family member. Equal attention is paid to the care requirements of special needs children and the social/emotional needs of typically developing siblings.
The hosts meet their families at the retreat’s Friday night ice cream social and follow them until checkout Sunday afternoon. They prepare their guests’ meals, which are provided for free. They provide child care while the parents go to men’s and women’s prayer groups or enjoy alone time. It’s not unusual for the children of the host families to serve next to their parents while upholding Barren Height’s mission of loving and encouraging families.
The Family That Plays Together, Stays Together
Recreational activities like boating or tennis can be difficult to fully enjoy as a family when there is a heavy focus on the extra needs of one or more children. At Barren Heights the emphasis is on enjoying life and each other. By acting as parents’ helpers during family activities, host families help create a shared feeling of respite that can bring families together in a way they may not have experienced before.
Barren Heights Christian Retreat Center offers Christian family retreats from Friday through Sunday, May to October. The 30 acre campus is ADA compliant. Retreats are free for qualified families and the weekend is all inclusive. Activities vary with the season and are divided into group time, individual family time, men and women’s prayer groups, and a Sunday worship service.
The Rose family purchased the original lake front cabin and land from Toni’s parents. They later attempted to buy a small amount of adjacent farmland for a boat storage garage but ended up buying all thirty acres. They had a ten year plan for building the retreat campus but the camp was built in ten months.
Barren Heights campus is in a natural wooded setting but the facilities are connected by wide and smooth concrete pathways. Air conditioned cabins have wide front doors, low threshold shower entry with hand bars and hand held shower heads, a full kitchen, and can sleep a family of six. The tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts feature handicapped height nets and hoops.
Nancy Perlich, COTA, ATP is the reimbursement specialist at Altimate Medical, Inc. She has worked in the complex rehab industry for more that 25 year as a clinician, supplier and currently a manufacturer. Nancy is a FON with NRRTS and a member of the NCART Standing Device work group.
Photos Courtesy Barren Heights Retreat
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2012 Magazine