What is ESP?
Extra Special People, Inc. strives to enhance the lives of children with developmental disabilities and their families by focusing on their abilities – not disabilities. We provide services throughout the year to residents of nine counties in Northeast Georgia. ESP serves individuals with behavior disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism, Asperger’s, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and many more. No child with a disability is turned away from ESP.
ESP provides a safe place that individuals with disabilities can call their own. It is truly special! Each year kids and young adults, families, volunteers, donors and staff are changed due to the magic that happens.
ESP empowers children with developmental disabilities to cultivate skills, self-confidence, and relationships through recreational therapy, community involvement, and the arts. With the support of volunteers and donors, the ESP team gives participants and their families acceptance, hope, and the opportunity to not just survive, but to thrive.
ESP is the legacy of one woman who had a passion for children and young people with special needs, and a vision of a place where they and their families could focus on their abilities instead of their disabilities. Martha Wyllie founded ESP in 1986, offering high-quality affordable programs for “people with different abilities.” Twenty-one children enrolled in that first summer camp, which operated on a budget of $20,000. By the time Martha died in 2004, ESP was serving 130 campers with a budget of $150,000 and had acquired a small facility where children could be served on-site. The year following Martha’s death, ESP Summer Camp was in danger of being eliminated because of lack of funding. When a young camp counselor, Laura Whitaker, heard this, she pulled together the families and made a call to the community to save camp by raising $50,000 in just a matter of months. The founder’s family appointed Laura as the new Executive Director in January of 2006. Since becoming Executive Director, Laura has led ESP to expanded programming, and the organization new serves more young people than ever before.
At ESP, it’s not about what they can’t do,
it’s about what they can do.