2016-07-15 / Community

Local camp helps athletes overcome disabilities


Camper Elijah Hedgemond using the tactile board with coachin training, Michela Guira Camper Elijah Hedgemond using the tactile board with coachin training, Michela Guira The athletic fields at Adelphi University were full of fun and competitive games this past weekend for the eighth annual Camp Abilities program. The program is a Thursday to Sunday overnight sports camp for children with visual impairments and is run by licensed teachers and student volunteers.

"We do any type of sport you can think of and tailor it to the needs of these kids who suffer from a wide range of visual impairments," said Camp Director and Adelphi adjunct professor, Lisa Santos. "The purpose of the camp is to empower kids to be physically active at home and in their schools."

The kids played plenty of sports including soccer, basketball, bocce on the grounds of Adelphi. They also participated in wrestling, tandem biking, rollerblading and many other active events.

Santos, who is also a phys-ed teacher in the New Hyde Park/ Garden City Park school district, said the two most popular sports and the ones the kids enjoy the most are beep baseball and goalball.

Game of beep baseball at Camp Abilities Game of beep baseball at Camp Abilities "In beep baseball the batter must hit the ball and get on base before the fielder finds the ball," said Santos. "The balls are modified, oversized softballs that beep and the bases have electronics in them that causes them to buzz."

She said that all the players in the game are blindfolded so that it makes it a level playing field for everyone.

One of the big things at the camp is what is called a tactile board, which illustrates what a playing field would look like.

"We want to take everything visual and make it tactile or auditory for them," said Santos. "The idea of the tactile board is that it gives the players a feel of what the field or course looks like and it makes the game easier for them to understand."

Camp Abilities had its most successful turnout this year with 25 campers showing up for the program. Part of that reason was because of the number of volunteers who participated.

"Usually we get about 20 kids but because of all of our volunteers who participated we were able to set a record with the number of campers we had this year."

At the end of the camp session each child is sent home with an in-depth assessment of their abilities in each sport and activity. The assessment is shared with the parents and a physical educator to increase understanding of their current abilities.

More information on Camp Abilities can be found on their website at www.campabilitieslongisland.org

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