Respite open house Sept. 21 introduces one-night option for people with disabilities

Megan May of Delhi, center, rolls under the Limbo stick at an evening activity at a recent Camp Allyn overnight program.

Megan May of Delhi, center, rolls under the Limbo stick at an evening activity at a recent Camp Allyn overnight program.
Stepping Stones is introducing a new one-night respite option at a free open house on Sept. 21 at Stepping Stones Camp Allyn in Batavia.

Stepping Stones offers weekend overnight respites for teens and adults with disabilities throughout the year. The new option allows individuals to choose to stay from 6 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Sunday or just stay Friday or Saturday night.

Families who want to learn more about Stepping Stones respite programs are invited to the free open house and dinner on Sept. 21 at Stepping Stones Camp Allyn, 1414 Lake Allyn Rd., Batavia.

For information or to register, contact Amanda Kay, manager of recreatin and leisure services, at (513) 965-5114 or

Stepping Stones’ Camp Allyn site includes a dining hall, sleeping dorms, an activity pavilion, trails, lakes, and activity equipment. Respites have on-site nurses during waking hours, food service professionals who can meet dietary needs and restrictions and trained staff. One-on-one aides are available for individuals with significant needs.

The open house is scheduled on a Respite Weekend, so families will see the respite program in action, said Kay.

Open House guests will have the same respite dinner.

“We want the families to see what happens at a respite and that includes the mealtime,” Kay said. “Families can see groups doing activities and see the peers their child or adult family member would be interacting with.”

The open house runs from 5 – 6:30 p.m. and includes a presentation, tour and dinner. Families as well as individuals who are considering attending a respite are invited to attend. They should register by Sept. 18.

The Stepping Stones Respite Program is open to ages 12 through adult. The respites run twice a month. A special longer Winter Respite the last week of December is open to age 16 and older and includes a New Year’s Eve dinner and dance as well as holiday themed activities through the week.

Each respite includes group and individual activities as well as evening parties, dances and events.

Tony Beresford, who has Down syndrome, has been coming to Stepping Stones for close to 30 years and is a regular at the respites, said his sister, Kathie Schmidt of Mariemont.

“He’s very safe. I know the staff is well trained and will give him the things I give him – love, respect and care,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the respite program provides a break for the family as well as giving Beresford a break from the family.

“Everybody needs some time to themselves,” she said. “He has his own friends and gets to have some fun on his own.”

Mychal Blakely of Cheviot will be attending his first respite on the open house weekend. He is 25 and attends Stepping Stones’ adult day program, but has never tried an overnight program.

“This is something we’ve been thinking about for a long time,” said his mother, Ellen Blakely of Cheviot. “The one-night is perfect for the first time. Mychal’s pretty independent, but he needs to do things without mom around.”

She visited the Camp Allyn site at an open house in the spring. “It’s beautiful and there’s so much out there,” she said. “We’re already signed up for a full weekend later in the fall.”

Stepping Stones is a United Way partner agency and has a 50-year history of summer day camps that serve more than 400 children, teens and young adults each year. But many campers have never stayed outside of the family home. “The one-night respite is a perfect next step,” said Amanda “Dottie” Dotson, who coordinates the overnight respites.

“You eat a meal with people who are not your family. You stay in a bed that’s not your own. You adjust to a new routine.”

Those are key life skills that many children develop in elementary school, staying at friends’ homes. But those casual overnights become complicated when children need medications or have mobility or communication challenges or sensory needs.

Stepping Stones’ Respites build confidence and independence while assuring safety, Dotson said.