Extra Special People, Inc. (ESP) was founded in 1986 in Watkinsville, Georgia to create a community of support for individuals of all abilities. Our founder, Martha Wyllie, noticed an unequal amount of opportunities for children with disabilities, beginning ESP as one week of summer camp for only 21 participants. Since our humble beginning, we have grown to now serve over 500 participants from over 30 counties in Georgia through 8 weeks of summer camp, annual after school enrichment programs, and ongoing family support.
ESP serves participants beginning at birth and with no upper age limit, welcoming participants with diagnoses of Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spina Bifida, and many more. Here at ESP, participants are never turned away because of their ability. Our specialized programs enable our participants to thrive with swimming, dancing, arts and crafts and cooking; family support, retreats, dinners, counseling, and holiday events.
For two decades, we conducted all programming in a 1,600 square foot gym, with the number of participants growing each year. The demand for more space grew as the gym limited the scope of our services and created accessibility barriers. In June of 2016, after a $3 million capital campaign, we opened the doors to a new 14,000 square foot Activity Building and renovated our original gym. As a result of two new spaces, ESP enrollment grew 25% immediately, allowing us to serve the hundreds of participants who now call ESP home.
The need for quality programming and recreational facilities for individuals with disabilities continues to grow, with ESP being the only program of our kind in the region. Knowing the need to serve more participants, more often, ESP grew the following mission-driven growth programs:
ESP will continually strive to grow in our capacity to serve the thousands of individuals with disabilities in our region and provide new, innovative, and accessible experiences for kids and adults of all abilities in our community to thrive.