Texas Elks support nearly 350 special needs children every summer. Any child with a special need, between the ages of 7 and 15, who is a resident of the state of Texas is eligible for admission to Texas Elks Camp.
In addition, Texas Elks award over four hundred twenty five thousand dollars in Special Grants for Special Children to deserving Texas children with various special physical needs. Our desire is to improve the current and future quality of life for children with special physical needs.
Elks Camp has been serving special needs children since 1987. Children who meet criteria are able to attend at no cost. At Texas Elks camp the number one rule is to have fun! Your children learn valuable life skills through a variety of challenging and entertaining activities, including but not limited to art, bowling, music, indoor rock climbing, sports and swimming.
Elks camp values creativity and expression through fine arts. Campers have learned to make tie dyed shirts and hand painted ceramics. They also learn how to make friendship bracelets and necklaces. Campers learn songs as well and enjoy singing them at their graduation ceremony.
Elks camp celebrates Friday nights with an awards ceremony traditionally known as "graduation" to commend each child for making it through the week, learning new things and making new friends. To make camp even more memorable, the counselors decide on awards every week, and every child receives not only an award for attendance but also an award for something special they did that week. Each one goes home knowing he or she performed the best at a camp activity
In August 1946 the crippling and killing disease polio stalked the children of Texas. Texas Elks responded by opening the Texas Elks Crippled Children’s Hospital on a nine-acre site at Ottine in Central Texas. By the 1950’s, the Salk Polio Vaccine was available and the mission of the Elks Hospital evolved from treatment to long-term care for polio survivors.
In 1977 the mission and the name changed again to the Texas Elks Children’s Services Diagnostic Center. In 1987 a summer camp for children with disabilities was added to the program. In June of 1999 the membership of TESA moved to institute a new program to replace the diagnostic program that helped children with learning disabilities.
After careful consideration, Texas Elks decided it was time to change the focus of the State Major Project. All Elks were offered the opportunity to make suggestions as to the direction the new project should take. After receiving many excellent project ideas, a committee was established to review the suggestions and select several proposals for Texas Elks to review and make a final selection.
Out of this process came The Prosthetic Grant Program, the new State Major Project. This project recognized a need to help special needs children realize their fullest potential. Texas Elks realized that those special needs children and their families face unique challenges. So many children could lead a more full and complete life if only there was some way to meet the specific needs of these children. In acknowledgement of the broad medical needs of special children, the Texas State Elks' Major Project is now called "Texas Elks Grants for Special Children".
Many children are unable to gain access to either the equipment or technology they need to allow them to be the productive children they want to be. Texas Elks decided to make these very special children their children. Out of this desire came the final grant program for children. The Texas Elks Children’s Services Board of Directors finalized the grant guidelines that defined the term “prosthetic” in the broadest of possible terms. For purposes of the grant, prosthetic is defined as “any piece of equipment and/or technology which will allow a child to live a more full and complete life.”
Children across the State of Texas have been helped with hearing aids, wheelchairs and computers with Braille capabilities, special braces, and a host of other devices that make special needs children stronger and more confident as they face their unique challenges. Texas Elks take great pride in this project. We are proud because we see children in our communities benefit and because this project has inspired us all to become more involved.
This project has also afforded our community the opportunity to learn about Elkdom and our principles and the many diverse projects we support.
Texas Elks Children's Services 1963 FM 1586 Gonzales, Texas 78629 Phone: 830-875-2425 Fax: 830-875-5455