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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Education, Human Services, Philanthropy, Philanthropy, Charity & Voluntarism Promotion

Mission: Providing life-enriching assistance to Wisconsin children challenged by physical disabilities.

Target demographics: Variety serves Wisconsin children who are challenged by physical disabilities, 21 years of age and younger and whose needs are not met by other sources, including family, school, insurance and service program resources.

Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2016, Variety provided funding for 53 requests of life-changing equipment, therapy, adaptive bicycles, and other items with a retail value of $68,000 through our Freedom Program. We hosted 66 events through the Future Program with more than 2,500 participants. We hosted 20 families for Chatter Matters! Communication Camp.

Geographic areas served: Wisconsin

Programs:

The Variety Freedom Program encompasses mobility, communications and experiences. The Freedom Program exists to help children with physical challenges obtain confidence, freedom and independence by funding durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, van lifts, house ramps, adaptive car seats and strollers, specially-equipped bicycles and tricycles, bath equipment and stair lifts, for those with the greatest financial need.

The Variety Future Kids Program provides memorable educational and play experiences that would likely be inaccessible to children with physical challenges due to mobility or financial restrictions. The program takes children and their immediate family members on fun, free outings.

Chatter Matters! Communication Camp is a residential camp for children who use speech generating devices and their entire family to become better communicators in a fun, traditional camp setting.

Community Stories

76 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our family was able to attend Camp Chatter Mattes is year and it was a wonderful experience. Everyone was so kind and helpful, the other families were great. My daughter got to experience camp like every other child can!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I learned about Variety two years ago, and the organization has helped our family in so many ways. Our daughter was born with a very rare syndrome, called SATB2 syndrome. Her motor coordination and planning is impaired, and with a diagnosis of severe verbal apraxia, she is eight years old but has less than 100 words that she can say clearly. Last year we wanted Sylvia to be able to ride a bike with our family, but we knew that she did not have the awareness to ride independently, or to stay on her bike. We had no idea of what options there were for her to help her participate in biking with our family. I applied to Variety for assistance, and Gerise the director actually brought me into Emery's bike shop in Milwaukee and personally introduced me to the owner to assist in fitting Sylvia for adaptive pieces for a bicycle. Prior to this she would not even sit on a tricycle. Variety helped to fund the adaptive pieces. Once the pieces were put on our daughters new bike she immediately sat on it and peddled like she had been biking for years. She can now go on bicycle rides with our assistance . Variety has also helped connect us to families all over Wisconsin who have children that use argumentative communication devices for speaking, by hosting a very special camp called Chatter Matters. We were fortunate enough to be one of the families to attend the camp last year as well as this year. Through speakers, and workshops it is four days of learning opportunities for families and siblings of special needs children. It has also given us a chance to connect with other parents and share our stories, challenges and achievements. It is a reminder to parents of special needs children that you are not alone, but it takes a camp like this to bring these families together. We have met families that I believe will be lifelong friends through Chatters Matters, and I'm very grateful that we have a program like this to support our families .

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Chatter Matters was a fantastic event. I had the chance to volunteer through my graduate program, and the weekend was a blast. Meeting the families and working with the kids was supplemented by the dance and talent show! For children who are looking for some fun and immersion, this camp brought it all in one weekend.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have participated at Chatter Matters Camp and it was an amazing experience for families who have a child using a talker! There were many family activities, parent activities, and free time. Thank you for all you do for special needs kids!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer at camp, it was awesome to see kids interact with their families outside the typical clinical setting. Some of these kids had never experienced camp before, so allowing them to participate in traditional camp activities was so rewarding.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at Variety's Chatter Matters! Camp this summer. It was a rewarding experience that I will never forget! I will definitely be volunteering again next year. Children who are nonverbal and their families had the opportunity to participate in engaging activities such as water sports, games, crafts, and cooking activities with the support of SLPs, and SLP/OT/PT students. The emphasis was on using AAC devices in everyday activities- I can't tell you how awesome it was to see children use these devices to communicate outside of the speech therapy room or classroom during activities where they could just enjoy being a kid at summer camp! Thank you for the wonderful weekend, Variety!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family attended Variety 2016 Chatter Matters! Communication Camp! Communicating with non-verbal children is very challenging; the camp showed us that it is well worth the hard work. Stephen Hawkings is only one individual who uses technology to give himself a voice. If we can all learn to use technology to its fullness, how much better will the world be for all of us? Technology is advancing we need to make sure the people who need it most have access to it. Everyone at camp was encouraged to do so.
People are social creatures. Both non-verbal children and their parents are isolated. Being among others with similar challenges broke the isolation. Everyone was able to find others that they could relate to and share with.
The camp was a fun, non-judgmental place were my entire family could have fun while learning. Being among so many non-verbal children allowed us to experience the world differently. Some of the activities were geared to have us adults see the world through our children's' eyes and it was frustrating. My children were able to see the world as one of the "normal" children and have fun.

Gena F.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Chatter Matters camp was an amazing experience for our family this past weekend! The campground was perfect and from all of the fun activities to the parent sessions.. we couldn't have asked for more! Thank you for letting us come to camp and we hope we can come back next year!

Mary434

Client Served

Rating: 5

This camp was a tremendous treat to my whole family. Thank you for this opportunity to be able to focus on fun and communicating with my son's device throughout the whole weekend. FUN! FUN! FUN! camp activities and parent enrichment sessions were appreciated by the whole family. Thank you for what you do and we are looking forward to more opportunities with Variety!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Variety has been a blessing to our family. They have given us the opportunity to get out into our community with other families like us. we have participated in Varietys free movies and Christmas parties. Variety has also coordinated and help purchase an adaptive trike for our daughter. With out their help a trike would not have been obtainable. We recently attended their "Chatter Matters" communication camp, it was an amazing experience for the entire family. Our daughter got the opportunity to use her AAC device besides the normal school and home atmosphere. She initiated conversions, made choices, answered questions and participated independently in a talent show. All this at just 7 years old! With out Variety our family would not have a chance to have "normal" activities and experiences just like their peers!