Posted: July 24, 2000
Youths with disabilities - often left out of traditional summer camps because of the nature of their disabilities - will get a chance at that summertime rite of passage this month at California State University, Sacramento. Up to two dozen 10- to 18-year olds will take part the first-ever WAVE Camp for pre-teens and teens with physical disabilities July 30 - Aug. 3.
There aren't many sleep-away camp options for young people with disabilities like cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury or spina bifida, says Scott Modell, professor of kinesiology and health science and WAVE camp director. "Typically they are not afforded the same opportunities as children without disabilities."
During the day the campers will focus on water activities - swimming, water polo, sailing, kayaking, canoeing and water-skiing. And just like their peers across the country, the campers will bunk overnight - in residence halls on the CSUS campus - and join in typical social activities like skit night, dances and a counselors versus the campers competition, probably in water polo.
Campers will eat their meals in the campus dining commons. Water activities will take place at the CSUS swimming pool, Stillwater Ranch and Lake Natoma. To ensure safety and maximum participation, each camper will have a one-to-one counselor. The counselor corps will include some of Modell's students as well as community volunteers. There will also be two nurses and an orthopedist on staff.
Modell recognized the need for the camp while working with families in his motor development and water recreation education program for children with physical disabilities called Project Play. He says, "This way, kids with physical disabilities can experience the same type of overnight camp as other kids without any architectural, programmatic and attitudinal barriers."
Modell sees the camp as a step in developing lifelong physical activity habits. "By exposing kids to activities that they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to, they have the chance to build lifelong interests," he says.
"Studies have shown that many children with disabilities are not spending their leisure and recreational time appropriately," Modell says. "The idea is to set the foundation for future participation later in life."
Modell also sees the camp as a way for the participants to establish relationships. "Community-based recreation is a great way to develop friendships," he says. "It opens avenues to increased social supports in the future which leads to increased quality of life."
More information is available by contacting the public affairs office at (916) 278-6156.
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