Kid Quest

Our Objective

We feel that it was essential for children with special needs to be able to participate in the activities of their choosing; from rock climbing to art class, to integration into pre-existing mainstream recreational programs and to learn social skills and friendship skills not only from adults, but from each other, through the novel experiences they can share together.

Kid Quest is an all inclusive friendship group that is devoted to bringing unique experiences to children with special needs

It is the intent of Kid Quest to design adventures that inspire children to explore the environment around them with both confidence and companionship. Throughout the day, children will be encouraged to develop teamwork, social skills, and their own sense of autonomy. Kid Quest will identify the unique interests and needs each child through interviews with the child and family. The job of the Kid Quest directors will be to identify, integrate, and support children with special needs so they may fully participate in community programs, as well as in Kid Quest events and clubs, which offer new and exciting experiences in Santa Cruz County. The objectives will be: to provide adequate modifications and supports to each child so that they may be successful in the activity of their choosing; to facilitate the transition into a mainstream activity; to provide adequate modifications and supports to each child so that they may be successful in the mainstream group; to train the community in acceptance and support through community outreach and community service; to train Kid Quest staff and consultants how to adapt activities and equipment; to provide support to families; and to train existing community program directors and their staff in adaptations and supports so that children with special needs may participate to the best of their abilities.

The Origins of Kid Quest

Cate and Colleen began working as BALANCE4Kids one-to-one instructors in the fall of 2002 and the spring of 2003 respectively. Then, in the spring of 2004 they began working together in a special day class in the Soquel School District. During this time they often found themselves discussing how much fun it would be to create a friendship group for special needs children and to take them on extraordinary excursions. They decided to design adventures that would inspire children to explore the environment around them with both confidence and companionship. Finally, they could no longer simply sit on their treasure chest of ideas. With the encouragement and support of Victoria George (Director of BALANCE4Kids), colleagues in the school district, and friends, they began formulating a plan. Kid Quest is the manifestation of six months of their day-dreaming, brain-storming and consulting with people of all ages.

From September of 2005 until September of 2011 Nichole Griffin worked as one of the Kid Quest Program Managers. We want to thank Nichole for her years of dedication and hard work!

Quest Guides

The Kid Quest program manager, Colleen Russell, has been volunteering in the field of special education since she herself was a child, and she has been working in the field of Special Education for almost ten years. The Quest Community Event Manager, Valerie Diaz, has been a part of the special needs community through her daughter for the last twenty years, and has worked in the field of special education since 2004. Valerie and Colleen started working together at Kid Quest in 2006, and they hope to continue working together and expanding the Kid Quest program for many years to come.

Since October 2005, Kid Quest has gained both community and parent support as we explored the many social opportunities that these counties have to offer. All of our events are designed to seek out and encourage our participants talents; whether it be making and enjoying dinner together as a team or playing and telling each other jokes while at the park. Kid Quest is an all inclusive program designed for children aged 4 to 13. We feel that the participation of typically developing children is a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved to learn and grow from each others exceptional gifts, and to pass along the knowledge that every person has something unique to share with the world.

Throughout these varied events the participants have impressed us with their flexibility in trying new things and also with the confidence they inspire in each other. With this new found confidence we have witnessed our participants independently initiating and developing new friendships with each other.

Services Provided

Kid Quest is an all inclusive friendship group that is devoted to bringing unique experiences to children with special needs in Santa Cruz County. The goal of Kid Quest is identification, facilitation, integration, and ongoing support for children with special needs to fully participate in community programs and activities of their choosing.

Throughout the day, Kid Quest staff will be encouraging the development of teamwork, social skills, and a sense of autonomy for each child.

The program coordinators at Kid Quest will collaborate with the directors of the pre-existing community programs. This will help fulfill federal mandates and establish a win/win situation for all. By using Kid Quest as a vehicle for children with special needs to participate in mainstream recreational programs we will build a greater comfort level for community program leaders and thereby achieve greater acceptance that will lead to systemic change.

The design of Kid Quest incorporates flexibility to meet the specific needs of each child and supports their strengths through an adaptive curriculum and a rich sensory diet. Kid Quest strives to provide all the necessary tools that a child may need in order to successfully and happily participate in each activity.

Siblings and friends of children with special needs are very welcome to participate, but it is preferred that parents not attend with their child as it is the goal to promote independence.

Kid Quest will look to include children with disabilities and their typical peers. Typically developing children will also participate in Kid Quest events. Through community outreach Kid Quest will welcome volunteers from private and public schools, universities and community colleges.

As of February 2007, the Kid Quest program has expanded to include a home-base; The Club Quest Social Center. The Club Quest Social Center is an accessible home that includes a large kitchen where cooking classes are provided, separate rooms for music, art and Aikido, and a room for facilitating the Quest Literacy Support Academy. The Social Center also has a huge lot that is becoming an interactive organic garden.

The Club Quest Social Center is located at 704 North Plymouth Street in Santa Cruz.