Sunday, July 8, 2012
Buddy Campers learn about inclusion and acceptance
from the Daniel Island News by Emily Johnston:
If you walked through the doors of Providence Baptist Church on a morning last week, you would have been welcomed by the wonderful group of therapists and volunteers at this year’s Buddy Camp.
For the past six years, the Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry (DSAL) and Coastal Therapy Services have worked closely together to host Buddy Camp in order to give children with Down syndrome and typically developing children an opportunity to form lasting friendships while promoting inclusion and acceptance.
On the Monday of camp, the Buddy Campers with Down syndrome bring a sibling or a friend who is a typically developing child around the same age; for the remainder of the week, the children are “buddies.” Each set of buddies gets a volunteer who makes an award for each child and presents it to them on the last day of camp. The volunteers that worked with the kids are mostly graduate students from MUSC and nearby universities like USC and Appalachian State.
This year’s Buddy Camp received a grant from the Charleston Country Medical Society Alliance. “The grant that we received is responsible for everything,” said Shelley Ackley.
Ackley, a speech pathologist for Coastal Therapy Services and one of the Buddy Camp coordinators, was nothing but thrilled to talk about everything that went on during the camp. Every day there were 30-45 minute sessions with music therapist Jennifer Gosset. “They absolutely love the music sessions,” said Shelley of the children, “they jump and sing. It’s a great time.”
Katrina Sander says that her son Joshua loves the music portion of the camp, showing a special interest in the xylophone. Other fun events that occurred during the week included painting and crafts, a visit from eight therapy dogs from K9 Cares, a dance lesson from Trudy’s dance studio, and even an opportunity to play with some large tortoises brought to the camp by Stephanie Burgess. At the end of the week the camp invited the children’s families to the church for a farewell pizza party.
Having a daughter with Down Syndrome, Bobby Howard, the President of the DSAL, holds events such as Buddy Camp close to his heart. He notes that Buddy Camp’s main goal is to establish friendships that will last well into the future. Bobby went on to say that it is extremely important to have events like Buddy Camp for the children to under-stand the importance of acceptance.
Along with Buddy Camp, DSAL also puts on many other events throughout the Lowcountry, including cookouts, youth groups, and the annual Buddy Walk that will take place this year on October 7 at Etiwan Park.
For more information on DSAL and events that they host, visit their website at: dsalowcountry.orgFor more information on Coastal Therapy Services, visit their website at: coastaltherapyservices.com