If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this video is worth a bunch more. Delight? Check! Fun? Check! Learning? Check!

The Tidewater Essential Pieces program took a turn toward the scientific when it was included in the Virginia Air and Space Museum grant-funded STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math) program, offering summer science clubs for school-age children aged 5 to 22. And judging by the first meeting in June, it is a stratospheric success. The clubs are held once a month on Friday evenings, and are created with EP families in mind. EP is open to individuals living with any kind of disability, any age, and their immediate families.

“Lauren truly enjoyed her time at the Science Club. The instructors at VASC were well informed, enthusiastic and engaged with all of the children. They also encouraged the children to participate in demonstrations which made learning fun. Thank you VASC and thank you EP for providing another great activity for our families!” said parent Katrece.

The first 30 minutes covers the theme – in June it was The Mysteries of Flight – and the second 30 minutes is an activity that relates to the topic.

To make sure that the workshops are inclusive and best suited to individuals with disabilities. Coordinator Hollie Stephens teaches groups that are hosting EP families how to make the experience tactile and sensory friendly as well as culturally sensitive. She provides similar training to volunteers, congregations and other groups who work with EP families.

“It works well for everyone,” says Stephens. “The host groups feel more comfortable with EP families, the kids feel like the whole experience is just for them, and the parents love that the clubs are tailored to their kids.”

The remaining two workshops and a field trip are already filled up, says Stephens, who hopes that the EP program will be a part of another grant for similar clubs this fall. Word should come in October.

Questions about EP in Tidewater or want to enroll? Email Hollie Stephens.