Participation – It Enhances Life’s Journey!
Summertime is nearly here! And, for families, that spells less-structured environments and outdoor fun for most everyone! Excitement and adventure abound for children attending [wikipop search=”day camp”]day camps[/wikipop], amusement parks, parties, and field trips – which cumulatively define typical summer months in the U.S.A. However, thoughts of relaxed routines and less-structured environments can bring about feelings of anxiety and apprehension to parents of children with physical, developmental and/or mobility limitations. Yet, although sometimes feeling fear and conflict, trusting our children to the care of qualified supervisors is usually a very good thing. And there are many reasons why.
Every child deserves opportunities to participate as best as possible in activities enjoyed by all children. Their involvement encourages self-confidence, as well as sense of independence. Participation creates opportunities for children to express choices of activities they’d enjoy, and to involve themselves and/or play a role, or allow them to “do their own thing!” In Education, we find that these activities promote in children necessary “self-determination” skills. Managed, independent fun provides children practice in [wikipop]self-advocacy[/wikipop]; they learn what and how to request tools or accommodations they need to succeed.
Family Focus features this month a Variety child, Selah, enjoying a great time during her first summer attending Adventure Camp. Variety Program Director Barb Kramer plans year-round to design Camp happenings amidst safe environments – where kids can be kids! The climate of Adventure Camp is electrified with energy, as Barb and her staff (i.e., trained counselors and professionals) actively engage campers in games, arts and crafts, swimming activities, and community-based, off-site field experiences. Many children are first-timers to camp, although most are returning to continue remembered fun from previous camp sessions. While at camp, might minor bumps or boo-boos occur? Occasionally. Do the benefits of the supervised, camp activities outweigh the minor risks? Most definitely!
The [wikipop]Centers for Disease Control[/wikipop] (CDC) states that although individuals with physical and/or developmental limitations have desires like everyone to engage in activities that are fun and promote good health practices, they are less likely to actively participate than individuals who have no such limitations. Why not help improve our children’s quality of life by allowing their participation in new and different things? Let’s endeavor to incrementally raise expectations for our children’s skills of independence. By allowing the children new experiences in what we understand are safe ecological conditions – where their needs are understood, staff is trained and accessible, the grounds are appropriate, and general communication is solid – the gains made by Campers are then too numerous to quantify.
Particular to children’s positive growth and well-being, parents, physicians, teachers, and related specialists establish priorities that often include the youngster’s learning and developing self-help functional, life skills; community-based, functional skills; functional academics; and/or social relationship skills. Summer camp and related recreational activities, away from parents’ immediate view and influence, often successfully foster such desired outcomes.
The late [wikipop search=”Dave Thomas (American businessman)”]Dave Thomas[/wikipop], founder of Wendy’s, admiringly declared individuals with physical challenges as “great examples (of) determination, because their courage makes them test their limits every day.” Great for their determination, as well, are parents who consider for their children new and varied venues for learning.
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