"Day to Play" for children with special needs offers learning, support

Courtyard Austin Northwest/Arboretum donates meeting space to the group for their June music therapy session

Jun 22, 2012, 12:41 ET from White Lodging Services Corporation

MERRILLVILLE, Ind., June 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Austin resident Marty Barnes knew her then 5-year-old daughter Casey wanted to play with other children, but Casey's fragile medical condition made it difficult to participate.

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So last year Barnes started the CLU campaign, a group geared toward helping children with special needs be included in the activities that all children want to do. At least four times a year the group hosts a "Day to Play," inviting children with special needs to participate.

From 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday June 16 in the Lonestar Room at the Courtyard Austin Northwest/ Arboretum, CLU hosted a "Day to Play" music therapy session with Danielle Baumgartner, a therapist with Roads of Connection Music Therapy.

"At the Austin Arboretum Courtyard we have a saying, 'Eat. Drink. Connect...To the Community.' We believe that genuine care is the most important of our company's core values, and we are excited to share our service, time and hotel and make it a great day to play," said Crystal Porter, the general manager of the Courtyard Austin Northwest/Arboretum.

The hotel donated the meeting space to the group to host the event, Barnes said.

"I got frustrated watching Casey get excited for an activity, but not able to be involved," said Barnes about her six-year-old daughter. Before she was born, Casey spent about 30 minutes with little to no oxygen, leaving her with serious medical compilations, but still the ability, and the desire, to play. "(Children with special needs) shouldn't be treated like patients."

The group's first event was a "Day to Play" session at an all abilities park in Round Rock.

Barnes said at Saturday's session the 10 participants ranged in age from toddlers to 26 years old and were all ability levels. The children participated at whatever level they are able – assisted arm swaying, head nodding, dancing or just watching.

"It's so difficult to find activities for her," said Round Rock resident Vanessa Ven Huizen, referring to her daughter Giuliana, 5. "Things like this are amazing. This is like Disneyland for us."

The 102-room Courtyard Austin Northwest/Arboretum is located at 9409 Stonelake Blvd. in Austin, Tex. The four-story building offers one, 650-square-foot meeting room and is located a short drive from downtown Austin and the University of Texas' Austin campus.

For more information about CLU, visit www.clucampaign.org. For more information about Roads of Connection Music Therapy, visit www.rocmusictherapy.com.

White Lodging Services Corporation - was established in 1985 and is headquartered in Merrillville, Ind. White Lodging is a fully integrated hotel ownership, development and operations company – a recognized leader that has defined and cultivated the ability to achieve consistent, sustainable growth among mid-to large-scale hotels across the country. Its current portfolio consists of more than 158 hotels in 20 states and encompasses representation of the following leading brands: Preferred Hotels, Marriott International, Inc., Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Global, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, InterContinental Hotel Group and Carlson Hotels Worldwide.

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Kathleen Quilligan
Phone: 219.472.2861
Fax: 219.472.2273

SOURCE White Lodging Services Corporation