Respite Recreational Program | Denver YMCA
Before and After School Programs

Respite Recreational Program

Safe Spaces for Kids. Special Support for Families.

The Recreational Respite Program is for children with sensory, developmental, and social disabilities. The program gives kids an opportunity to move and exercise, while increasing their comfort and familiarity with themselves, with other people, and in a safe, recreational environment that is conducive to their special needs. At the same time, as the kids play, the program gives families the time and support they need to thrive. 

How the program works

For each three-hour session, children are each paired with a qualified staff instructor. They start off in the pool, swimming for 45 minutes to two hours, depending on the interest of each child.

From there they have a snack and take advantage of the Childwatch facility, dance studio, gymnasium, outside fields, or playground. Kids can play with balls and large foam toys, improving their gross motor skills, and run and move, getting essential exercise. The program also encourages socialization through group play and instructor interaction.

And because children are working one-on-one with an instructor, their time at the Y can be flexible, based on each child's needs and desires that day.

The program is offered throughout the year through grant monies from the Colorado Respite Coalition and other organizations.

Parents say the sessions are amazing:

Our son is really having so much fun at the respite program. His two favorite things are gyms and swimming!"

"Thank you for offering this program. It is so great for our whole family."

More highlights

  • Qualified instructors. All YMCA Recreational Respite Program instructors have completed Autism 101 training through the Autism Society of Colorado and have experience and interest in working with children with special needs. Many of the staff are certified lifeguards and swim instructors, as well. 
  • One-on-one interaction. The child/instructor ratio is 1 to 1.
  • Y values. As part of the YMCA, the program promotes youth development and a strong sense of community in an environment built on respect, responsibility, caring, and honesty.



Recreational Respite at the Schlessman Family YMCA

Recreational Respite at the Schlessman Family YMCA is for children with sensory, developmental and social disabilities. Here at Schlessman, our program is recreationally based, where we have a small group of friends join us to play. Activities include: Swimming, water slide, puzzles & sensory toys, gross motor play, snacks, music and our sensory friendly playroom. 

Recreational Respite Program sessions are held regularly. Participation is limited. Registration is open NOW. For more info contact Joe McKnight at

To qualify, children must be age 4 to 18. YMCA membership is not required, and financial aid may be available. The program is for children who have sensory, developmental, and social challenges who would benefit from interaction and Recreational. It is not designed for children with severe behavioral or medical concerns.