EPISODE 16 – Enjoying Entertainment and Education – October 1, 2022

Hear Bart share what a special needs trust pays for when considering entertainment and education.

Listen to the latest Vista Points podcast episode of Choose Your Path to learn about special needs trusts, the benefits for the beneficiaries and how you can use them.


Greetings from our Middle Tennessee studio. Welcome to today’s Vista Points podcast, “Choose Your Path,” where the Vista Points staff are committed to improving the quality of life for people, of any age, living with a physical, mental or intellectual disability.

I’m Bart, your podcast host. My role is to walk with you on this journey of discovering and using special needs trusts. If you’re listening to this podcast online, make the most of your experience by using closed captioning. Click the C-C in the shadowed box on the video screen.

We address a variety of topics related to special needs trusts in our podcasts. Today’s topic is about entertainment and education. Do you know that a special needs trust can be used to pay for education or various types and pay for all different types of education? In today’s podcast episode, we are addressing big and small questions related to entertainment and education with special needs trusts.

Yes, this is true! Entertainment and education play an important role in the quality of life for everyone. This includes people of any age who are living with a disability or have special needs. Therefore, many services are covered for the beneficiary, by the special needs trust. Before I go any farther, let me define the word “beneficiary.”  This means a person who is living with a disability and has a special needs trust is called the beneficiary. Examples, specifics and guidance are provided today. I encourage you to sit back, relax, put your feet up and soak it in. My hope is this episode will get your loved one who is living with a disability or you prepared for a good quality of life that includes entertainment and education, through the use of a special needs trust; especially if you’ve thought this is off limits in the past.

Why wait for a drum roll? Let’s begin with entertainment. Examples of entertainment outside the home include, but are not limited to, sports, the arts, concerts, tourist attractions, museums, movies, horseback riding and fairs. Let me ask you a question. If your loved one who is living with a disability is able to white water raft, can his or her special needs trust pay for the trip? Why yes, it can!

Entertainment inside the home can include books, sewing craft supplies, CD’s, music, audio books, your home karaoke machine – for the beneficiary who likes to sing and many more items or services. If your loved one living with a disability enjoys bingo, checkers or cards then definitely, these, too, are considered entertainment!

Please remember that the trustee who manages the special needs trust will make the final decision on whether the beneficiary’s trust can pay for any of these types of entertainment. It is the trustee’s fiduciary responsibility to make sound decisions on the behalf of the beneficiary.

I encourage you to think about what types of entertainment the beneficiary is interested in or wants to try. Using the special needs trust set up for the beneficiary is how you can help to make the fun begin!

Many times education and entertainment align. Education can be learned online or in person, whether learning takes place at a community center or is with a personal tutor, each is education and can be paid, for, for the beneficiary, by using his or her special needs trust. 

It does not matter what the topic of study is – whether its purpose is to better understand the disability, or if it is completely off the wall and just for fun! Education can be gained through an individual speaking engagement or an ongoing course. As long as the education’s intent is to increase the quality of life and provide entertainment for your loved one living with a disability, then education applies.

Do you feel the doors are opening? Are you getting some ideas that you would like to explore? Would you like to learn how to act, draw, paint, knit or do sign language? Has your loved one, living with a disability, had a desire to learn something new? I hope so! The beneficiary’s special needs trust can pay for education of all types. 

What is exciting for me is every person chooses different types of entertainment and education. I think that’s great! After all, variety can keep your loved one, who is living with a disability, engaged, curious and motivated – all of which increase his or her quality of life.

Laughter is the best medicine! Right? Now, I’m not saying to ditch all your medications and live on laughter alone! Yet, it is one smart factor you can and should include. Many educational classes involve social interaction; for example, theater classes. What better way to learn how to act than to be involved with others who are wanting to learn the same thing?

Now, we’re having fun with this, but laughter is not a laughing matter! It releases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine which decrease pain, enhances the immune system, reduces anxiety and depression, regulates the appetite, betters self-esteem, boosts our mood and even helps us feel pleasure. This is true for any of us! Yet as we focus on our loved one living with a disability, imagine the impact this can have! There’s no doubt that each of these outcomes result in a better quality of life. This is why entertainment and education can be paid for by the special needs trust.

While keeping this positive news in mind, let’s recognize that your loved one living with a disability might not be able to attend something like a sports game alone. Sometimes admission tickets cost too much money for others to attend, and the cost of transportation. It’s tough. It really is. I mean, have you been to the movie theater recently? If you total the cost of movie tickets any time of day, the popcorn and the drive to and from the theater, it really adds up! 

Let me lift the burden for you. Are you ready for this? The special needs trust covers the cost of one caregiver to attend alongside your loved one who is living with a disability. Plus, this caregiver can be a different person depending upon the activity. After all, not every caregiver shares the entertainment or educational preferences as the beneficiary. It really is perfectly fine for the mother to escort the beneficiary to the fashion show and the father to go to the zoo with this beneficiary. To make sure everyone understands and also because I enjoy sharing positive news, the special needs trust pays for both entities and more!

Plus, I am happy to tell you the beneficiary’s special needs trust also covers transportation costs to and from the entertainment or education! Yes, really! It pays for your mileage. You do need to track the mileage, but the important thing is that you’re reimbursed for the related travel costs.

One of my favorite Vista Points entertainment stories is about a young boy, about 10 years old. He was living with cerebral palsy. His mother wanted him to get exercise but she worked two jobs and just didn’t have time to take her son to a gym or pool or even a park. The boy’s grandmother offered to take her grandson once a week to the community pool. She was very poor and could not afford to pay her grandson’s admission along with her own. The mother contacted her son’s trustee and got it set up to pay for her son and the grandmother’s admission to the pool, on a quarterly basis. A couple weeks after the grandmother and grandson began swimming, the trustee received a photo of both of them having a good time in the pool. You should have seen the smile on the boy’s face!

A key point to remember is that special needs trusts are used for education and entertainment, for any age beneficiary. A five-year-old might enjoy a visit to the local theme park or an eighty-year-old budding photographer might enjoy a photography class. For the beneficiary, who enjoys acting, classes are available, for anyone living with a disability. This benefit is for every special needs trust beneficiary.

No matter what or where your loved one, who is living with a disability, chooses for entertainment or education, I encourage you to look into the location and see if the experience will be beneficial. After all, the beneficiary has needs and experiences should be worth the time and preparation. Does the new outdoor park have an inclusive playground or wheelchair-friendly pool? Are the restrooms sufficiently large enough to function as a companion restroom if needed? If photosensitivity or seizures are a concern, are there certain parts of the theme park to intentionally avoid certain lights? Are there performance show times to plan for which include a sign language interpreter? Is a hospital close by just in case it’s needed? There can definitely be a lot to consider and plan for no matter where you go, but hopefully the transportation and admission finances being eased, allows for planning and participation for everyone to enjoy.

From my own perspective, I’d like to see pictures or hear stories from your beneficiary’s entertainment or education choices! What are they? Where did they go? Did everything go more or less as planned? Did everyone involved have a good time? I hope so! Send me a picture if you’re willing. Let us start decorating the Vista Points’ refrigerator with your pictures of your beneficiary enjoying the benefits of his or her special needs trust.

Thank you to our listeners for tuning in to today’s episode of Choose Your Path, the Vista Points podcast. I hope some of today’s information allows your loved one living with a disability to live a better quality of life using entertainment or education or both!

The next time you find yourself online, I encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can be notified as our latest episodes go live on the 1st and 15th of every month. The Vista Points YouTube channel is named Vista Points SNT, that’s S-N-T as in special needs trust.

You can find past episodes on the YouTube channel. You can also find past episodes on the Vista Points website at vistapoints.org along with a transcript of each podcast. The website again is vistapoints-dot-O-R-G.

If you don’t already know, the episode topics are in response to listeners’ questions! If you haven’t asked your question yet, I encourage you to ask or share other concerns online or by calling. When you’re online, visit our Facebook page named Vista-Points-Inc, that’s Vista-Points-I-N-C. While you’re there, you can send us a direct message, otherwise known as a D-M, by clicking on the Messenger button which looks like a sideways lightning bolt. For those who are comfortable, ask your questions via Facebook!


Or, voice your concern by calling the Vista Points office at 888-422-4076. That number again is 888-422-4076. Each of the Vista Points team wants to answer your questions and assist you in whatever way they can.


I’m glad to connect with you today! I hope you enjoy your day with your loved one. Come back for more or look into past episodes of Choose Your Path. Regardless of where or when you find us, we walk beside you on your path. I look forward to our next steps together and speaking to you again soon.