This past week, we were blessed to host a day camp for nine children with special needs. The purpose of the camp is to provide fun, therapeutic and educational experiences to kids with needs that cannot be met in this area of Honduras. Most of the children who attended have Down syndrome and cannot attend the public schools. This was the second time the week-long camp was held and this team included a number of occupational therapy students, a speech therapy student (all working on their masters degrees) as well as a nursing student, and an art instructor. The team is organized by a woman from a church in Minnesota that supports our mission. She has child with special needs and has a heart for children who do not have access to the services her daughter enjoys.
Each day of the camp, the children engaged in multi-sensory activities designed to develop their base of knowledge about how the world works, using their senses of touch, sight, sound, and smell. Group activities were designed to teach them appropriate social skills and they spent time listening to picture-book stories, dancing to music, eating snacks and playing together. They had daily crafts using a variety of materials with lots of colors and textures. They made such things as musical instruments, hand puppets, masks, and jewelry, and did lots of drawing and painting. Team members spent one-on-one time with each child, emphasizing the use of their senses and trying to improve their communication skills. Some of the one-on-one activities were painting with fingers and brushes, molding playdoh and moonsand, working on puzzles, playing catch, constructing with various types of building blocks, and squishing shaving cream which was one of their favorites! They practiced their visual skills with flashcards which help to develop not only their identification of letters, numbers and various animals but also their verbal skills by saying the words out loud.
The campers’ parents were very thankful that their children could attend this once-a-year camp and be with others who have similar needs. This camp is the only local program designed for children with special needs and it also provides an opportunity for the parents to meet and support each other. The members of the team were quite encouraged with the progress each of these children made during the course of the week, especially noting the improvements made by those who were attending the camp for the second time. A third camp is already in the works.