C.A.S.T.L.E.

at Virtua Camden

C.A.S.T.L.E. at Virtua Camden

The C.A.S.T.L.E. (Children Achieving Success through Therapeutic Life Experiences) program at Virtua Camden provides therapeutic support to children ages three to 15 with emotional, behavioral or psychological challenges. With three levels of care, C.A.S.T.L.E. serves more than 500 children from Camden and surrounding communities each year.

With donor support, Virtua Foundation proudly supports the children, families and caregivers of C.A.S.T.L.E.

How Gifts Make a Difference:

  • Fitness Fridays at C.A.S.T.L.E. is a therapeutic program that uses yoga and other forms of exercise, mixed with music and lessons about self-confidence and kindness.
  • C.A.S.T.L.E.’s new Horticulture Therapy promotes the development of social skills, enhances nurturing and fosters responsibility.
  • The C.A.S.T.L.E. food and coat drive provides necessities to students and their families during the winter.
  • The Backpack Blitz ensures children in the C.A.S.T.L.E. program have the supplies they need to start the school year off right.

Horticulture Therapy

Feelings of stress, conflict and anxiety are common among participants of the Children Achieving Success through Therapeutic Life experiences (C.A.S.T.L.E.) Program at Virtua Camden.

Many of the patients, who range in age from three to 15, face emotional, behavioral and physiological challenges. C.A.S.T.L.E. provides a wide range of therapeutic care at varying levels to help children manage their emotions and begin to heal.

New to the program is Horticulture Therapy, made possible by a grant from South Jersey Charitable Foundation. Grant dollars, combined with funding from Virtua, were used to turn an existing atrium on the Virtua Camden campus into a new garden. C.A.S.T.L.E. patients use the space for a variety of therapy sessions.

“It allows the patients to interact with nature, in a beautiful garden designed to meet their needs,” says Amy Quick, director of the C.A.S.T.L.E. program. “It provides them with a new, peaceful environment where we discuss the importance of caring for living things, caring for others and for ourselves.”

Horticulture therapy promotes the development of social skills, enhances nurturing and fosters responsibility. It is also a creative outlet that can help build confidence in children, says Quick.

The garden was designed with therapy in mind. Low lying beds full of colorful blooms and small trees that will flourish over time now occupy the space. Tiers of plant bedding are staggered to accommodate the varying heights of C.A.S.T.L.E. children who will plant flowers and herbs. Benches welcome all to sit and enjoy this multi-sensory environment.

The natural elements of the garden recreate the stillness of water and serve as a psychological aid in the therapeutic process for children and staff. A flexi-pave floor serves as a cushioned walkway where the children can comfortably do yoga and other calming exercises that are part of their therapy program.

“Horticulture therapy provides a lot of sensory stimulation, with the colors, textures and fragrances,” says Quick. “They learn from seeing and they learn from doing.”

Fitness Friday

As the door to the Lords and Ladies group room swings open, an energetic group of children waiting inside are clearly ecstatic to see their guest.

“Ms. Sara, Ms. Sara! Hi Ms. Sara!” they shout together, running to greet their friend with hugs and waving hands.

The children are three and four-year old students at Virtua Camden’s C.A.S.T.L.E (Children Achieving Success through Therapeutic Life Experiences) Program. Ms. Sara is their instructor for Fitness Friday.

Fitness Friday is a therapeutic program focused on wellness and exercise. It is funded by Virtua Foundation donors whose gifts support Virtua Camden. Originally tested as a one-year pilot, Fitness Friday was made permanent thanks to a grant from the Sumner Station Foundation and continued community donations. It introduces yoga and other forms of exercise, mixed with music and lessons about self-confidence and kindness to kids of all ages. Sara O’Brien of Community Rocks! Corp. leads classes for the students, who range in age from 3 to 15 years old, with her guitar, iTunes play list and positive energy.

“It has been a joy to witness children who normally struggle to communicate and engage with others become playful, energetic and even loud when Ms. Sara comes with her guitar,” said Amy Quick, director of the C.A.S.T.L.E. Program. “Doing something fun when kids don’t know they are getting therapy is just as important.”

Fitness Friday is a highlight for many of students, since playing outside at recess is not part of the daily schedule. In the Court Jester group room, the seven and eight-year-old students work up a sweat as each gets a chance to be the leader. They pretend to be superheroes and strong warriors who keep their heads held high and don’t let anything get them down.

“It shows how play, music, and dance and being connected are ways to cope with stress and anxiety. These life lessons are powerful when taught directly by someone like Ms. Sara,” said Quick. “Fitness Fridays has been a gift to the CASTLE program. We hope to continue the program for years to come, and provide therapeutic experiences like this to as many children as possible.

Virtua Foundation

303 Lippincott Drive, 4th Floor
Marlton, NJ 08053
Phone: 856-355-0830

Fax: 856-355-0831
vhf@virtua.org

 

 

Virtua Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization committed to enhancing Virtua's mission through philanthropy.

 

Copyright 2017 Virtua Foundation