This camp was for children aged 4-6 who attended from July 11 through July 22, 2016. The purpose of this inclusive camp program was to reach out to children with special needs who were not part of the regular school session and integrate them into a classroom with their typically developing peers. Seong Hong, faculty director of Early Childhood Center mentioned that this camp is unique. "There are many summer camp programs around", said Dr. Hong, "however, the access to quality summer camp programs that are designed to address the inclusive experience for both children with and without special needs are rare".
Ten children enrolled in the camp this year, 6 with special needs and 4 were typically developing. The camp was staffed by early childhood educators, an art studio teacher, a speech language therapist and an occupational therapist. The curriculum was designed by ECEC teachers with assistance from CEF staff to set goals for the children with special needs. The teachers were able to integrate the goals for the children into the regular day at camp.
Catherine Stone, an Early Childhood Educator who has been a lead teacher at ECEC for 9 years and organizer of the camp for the second year, referred to how inspirational is this project. "I love participating in this camp because it's a great example of how children of all backgrounds and abilities can come together and work collaboratively without noticing or caring about each others differences", she said, "The children worked so hard together this year on a collaborative mural and each child, no matter their ability, played an important role in the creation of that mural. It was inspiring to see the friendships between children form so quickly."
A culminating event was held the last day of camp at ECEC to showcase their efforts throughout the camp. Parents, family members, therapists, ECEC faculty and the Dean of CEHHS, Janine Janosky, along with Dr. Susan Youngs and Michelle Teklinski from CEF celebrated the children’s camp success. The children showcased art they had worked on individually as well as the collaborative mural that will be hung at the ECEC/CEF hallway.
"I really liked that they had a very diverse group of children involved" and "I really liked that my daughter was in an environment she loved and was excited to come in each and every day" were some of the comments that could be heard from parents who attended the event.