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Jul 29, 2004

Unique summer camp helps disabled

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There are summer camps…and then there are summer camps. He’s probably reported on dozens during his career, but the one Patrick Jones visited this morning particularly caught his eye.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

It?s a simple slogan, but the ?Can Do? motto of the annual summer camp for the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired is more than just a catchy phrase. For the past two weeks, over a dozen boys and girls, most of whom have special needs have been engaged in various activities including canoeing, swimming, and horseback riding. Camp Coordinator Joan Samuels says apart from the fun, the children also get a head start in their school work.

Joan Samuels, Coordinator, Summer Camp 2004

?These two weeks were more formal. What we did was that we chose children who had specific problems who are going into new classes in September. Like who had problems with Braille skills who had problems with math, English, reading, spelling. And we brought them in for two weeks concentrated training in these skills so when they go back to school in September they won?t be that far behind, noh.?

While this is the eighth camp that B.C.V.I is sponsoring, this year the participants received an additional treat.

Thanks to various businesses and individuals, computers were introduced to the program. And the children took to them with excitement. Richard Genus is a second form student of the Toledo Community College.

Richard Genus, Second Form, T.C.C.

?It was a wonderful experience learning about jaws and we learn about computers and do a little bit of English and meet new children from across Belize.?

Patrick Jones

? What was it like meeting new friends??

Richard Genus

?Wow, you will find badder people that you can?t see like me and I talk to them and they understand me more than people that can see, and then I like to be beside them.?

Joan Samuels

?It?s a normal computer, but what is different on it is that it has a software by the name of JAWS which speaks to the person while the person is typing. So it gives commands, whenever you touch the mouse, it tells which program you are going into, whether you are closing a program, opening or setting margins, whatever, it speaks to the person. So that is what is different about these computers.?

The children were also involved in art and craft and got in-house entertainment from one of their fellow campers.

Joan Samuels

?What we did was to bring in a sibling along with the blind child or a support person along with the blind child so that that support person learns the skill along with the child and then they will be the support person once they go back home.?

The support for the visually impaired children also included instruction on how to navigate their surroundings. For Kenroy Ciego, a standard five student of Holy Ghost Primary school in Dangriga, this year?s camp was a refreshing experience.

Kenroy Ciego, Student, Holy Ghost Primary

?I learn from Miss Samuels; she teach me everything that I don?t know.?

Patrick Jones

?What did she teach you??

Kenroy Ciego

?Like the basic math, problems solving, English, like how to circle the words in the brackets.?

Patrick Jones

?You got to meet other friends from other parts of the country, what was that like for you??

Kenroy Ciego

?It was good because the person who is blind that I can be there for them, if it was time for lunch and didn?t know the way to go, I will carry them.?

The camp concluded with an open day, where the media, parents and supporters of the participants got to see the fruits of their labour over the last two weeks. But the friendships formed during the camp will stay with these boys and girls, long after they have glued their last piece of art work or sounded their last note on the keyboard. Patrick Jones, for News Five.

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