February 27, 2006
While the calendar may
still officially say, "Winter," it is the time of year
when many start making plans for summer and summer camp. For those
with special needs or special interests, the search for just the
right camp can pose unique challenges.
"When it comes to
camps, children with special needs actually have as many choices
as children who have no such needs. The Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) requires all camps to make reasonable accommodations (such
as the installation of wheelchair-accessible ramps) so that children
with special needs can attend. ... Inclusionary (or mainstream)
camps do just what their name implies: They include children with
special needs in their groups of children with regular needs. ...
Even with The Americans
with Disabilities Act, those with special needs may encounter challenges
when trying to find an inclusionary camp.
"* Centers cannot
exclude children with disabilities unless their presence would pose
a direct threat to the health or safety of others or require a fundamental
alteration of the program.
* Centers have to make reasonable modifications to their policies
and practices to integrate children, parents, and guardians with
disabilities into their programs unless doing so would constitute
a fundamental alteration.
* Centers must provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services needed
for effective communication with children or adults with disabilities
when doing so would not constitute an undue burden.
* Centers must generally make their facilities accessible to persons
with disabilities. Existing facilities are subject to the readily
achievable standard for barrier removal, while newly constructed
facilities and any altered portions of existing facilities must
be fully accessible. Programs cannot just assume that a child's
disabilities are too severe for the child to be integrated successfully
into the program. An individualized assessment must be done to determine
if the particular needs of the child can be met without fundamentally
altering the program."
For those who think that
mainstream camps may not be the best fit:
"There are also camps
designed just for kids with special needs, including kids who have
learning or behavioral problems, kids with specific chronic illnesses,
and kids with mental or physical impairments. Many of these camps
accept children with a variety of needs, but some camps only accept
kids with specific problems..."
Much like mainstream camps,
camps for children with special needs are located all over the country.
"In the Greater Cincinnati
area there are many summer camps for children with special needs.
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center provides information
on different camps for children with the following special needs:
* Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
* Celiac Disease
* Dermatological Conditions
* Heart Disease
* Juvenile Arthritis
* Sickle Cell
* Therapeutic Recreation
* Ventilator-dependent / Tracheostomy"
Mainstream camps are required
to do all they can to accommodate those with special needs. Children
who want to be with their friends, or want to be with others in
a mainstream camp have every opportunity to do so. So, why have
special camps for those who can function in the mainstream?
"Kids with diabetes
are in the minority ... except at diabetes camp. At camp, kids with
diabetes are surrounded by people just like them -- both kids and
adults who share their day to day challenges and triumphs managing
diabetes. Diabetes camp gives kids the opportunity to meet and learn
from adult counselors with diabetes who have gone through many of
the things the campers are experiencing, and can share the ways
they coped with the problems and pitfalls of having diabetes. The
number one benefit both kids and their parents express is the ability
to feel part of a group where everyone has diabetes and the feelings
of isolation are eliminated. ... Parents' concerns range from nutrition
to proper medical care and supplies, to learning how to manage diabetes
during strenuous activities. Teams of competent diabetes health
care professionals staff each camp, and have the answers for all
these situations and many more."
Are you (or is someone
you know) looking for a camp to attend this summer?
"This is a guide to
some of the directories and listings of summer camps. Half of these
resources identify camps specifically intended for children who
have disabilities. The other half are simply directories listing
camp opportunities available to all children. Your community is
also likely to have summer camps or recreational opportunities available.
You probably won't find them listed in these directories! To find
out what's available locally, you'll need to consult with local
sources of information--your childs teachers, local recreation
department, religious organizations in your area, fellow parents,
and community groups...."
Not all people have special
needs that are addressed at a specific camp. Not everyone with special
needs would like to attend a camp that specifically caters to their
needs. In addition to having camps that are designed to meet the
special needs of those attending, there are also camps that are
designed to address the unique interests of those who would like
to someday work as a health professional. Examples from past summers
"Students will ...
participate in activities that will help develop their critical
thinking, communication and public speaking skills, including daily
workshops on community health issues; skill development-critical
thinking, presentation skills, team collaboration skills; library
research; tours health care and university facilities; and field
trips. The program's four principal components include: Youth Leadership
Development, Community Health Projects, Exploring Careers in Health
Care and Preparing to Apply to College. Student peer leaders will
select a critical health issue from their home communities and develop
an intervention plan to implement during the upcoming school year."
"Students who are
interested in healthcare careers and who will be entering grades
10 and 11 this fall are invited to participate in HealthQuest. ...
'Students attending the camp at Ithaca College will learn about
professions in health care other than doctor, dentist, or nurse,'
says Steven Siconolfi, dean of the School of Health Sciences and
Human Performance. 'Through interactive learning experiences with
practicing professionals and college instructors, young people will
be exposed to career possibilities in allied health fields that
include occupational and physical therapy, speech-language pathology
and audiology, athletic training, therapeutic recreation, and exercise
science. Professions such as these are the silent majority in health
care and provide the infrastructure for the highest quality of health
care in the world.''
Not all of these camps
are available in all areas. These camps may not all be available
every year. In offering these examples, Access Excellence @ the
National Health Museum is not endorsing any specific camp.
Questions of the Week:
What camps are available in your area? What camps interest you?
Who would benefit most from a mainstream camp that can accommodate
those with special needs? Who would benefit most from a camp designed
specifically for those with special needs? What are the possible
positives and negatives for campers (both special needs and mainstream)
who attend inclusionary camps? What are the possible positives and
negatives for special needs campers who attend camps specifically
designed to address their unique needs? How are the camps that are
designed specifically for teens with an interest in health professions
meeting unique needs? Who would benefit most from camps that focus
on the study of health issues and healthcare careers?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum