Many people have fond memories of summer camp—sailing on the lake, singing campfire songs, pranking counsellors, and forging lasting friendships.
Now, imagine a child who is not able to attend summer camp because of a disability, missing out on life-changing experiences and friendships. At Easter Seals Camps in Squamish, Winfield and Shawnigan Lake, that is not the case. Easter Seals camps are fully inclusive and accessible, so any child or adult with a disability can attend and participate in any activity. Camp opens up a completely new world that is inclusive, fun, and accessible.
For those living with a disability, they experience a multitude of barriers in their daily life, so at Easter Seals, we are passionate about providing them with a week of no barriers, only inclusion. Our camps have a three-to-one camper-to-staff ratio, a 24-hour medical team on-site, and camp counsellors trained specifically to work with persons with disabilities between the ages of six to 49. Disabilities vary each year from autism, development delays, anxiety disorders, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy, and ADHD, among others.
Tina and Nansey are one of many families who know just how important camp is for both the camper and the caregiver. “Going to camp feels like coming home for Tina. It’s just a beautiful thing,” says Nansey, mother of Tina who has Cerebral Palsy and has been attending Camp Shawnigan for more than ten years. “It really is the absolute highlight of her year. She talks about it months before and for months afterwards. She has so much excitement for the whole week because she gets to celebrate life and enjoy it.”
The magic of camp happens as soon as campers arrive at the gate. A combination of training, experience, love, fun, friendship, and independence turns one week of camp into the best time of campers’ lives.
“As soon as you come through the gate to the property you feel welcome and you can just feel the energy throughout the camp. The first time we arrived we were excited and nervous at the same time, but you leave knowing that everyone is going to have a wonderful time,” adds Nansey.
Everyone benefits emotionally and physically when they are outdoors and running around, but children and youth with disabilities are not always able to take part in sports teams or gym class, which is why summer camp can be so enriching for them.
“At Easter Seals camps, they don’t hear the word no, which is what they hear a lot of when navigating the world around them,” says Nansey. “At camp they can try any activity because it’s set up to be fully accessible and the staff are trained to work with all abilities and needs. And if a camper is nervous to try something, there is such a supportive environment to make them feel safe.”
All activities and sports at Easter Seals camps are designed for individuals with disabilities, including rope courses, climbing walls, big swings, water sports and leadership training. There are also talent shows, swimming, canoeing, campfires, arts, crafts—every activity you would see at any summer camp.
“The biggest thing camp does is give me piece of mind I can’t even describe,” says Nansey. “I am so happy that Tina has time that is just about her. It gives her an opportunity to break away from life with a disability, and her routines at home that are all about her care.”
Your support helps make stories like Tina and Nansey’s possible. And, at Easter Seals we believe in possibilities. We believe that people with disabilities can do anything when given the chance. Your support helps give them that chance.
Including a gift to Easter Seals BC & Yukon in your will, no matter how big or small, will make a lasting difference for generations to come; funding programs and services that enable children and adults with disabilities like Tina and Nansey, to flourish and thrive.
Contact Michelle Boileau, Senior Manager Philanthropy, at firstname.lastname@example.org today to learn more on how you can name Easter Seals BC & Yukon in your will and make a real impact in the lives of persons with disabilities in your community.