Footprints In The Community just wrapped up their third annual Summer Therapy Camp, hosted at North Hills Christian School in Salisbury. The camp offers an inclusive setting for children with special needs as well as their typically developing peers, to receive summer therapies alongside a structured curriculum. This year, children had the opportunity to learn about caterpillars and airplanes!
Campers learned about both caterpillars and gardens while reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” book. During our curriculum week, the children buddied up and visited each of four stations, including a physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and academic station. Activities at each area involved lessons about caterpillars, butterflies or foods that the caterpillar ate in the book. Children made and took home various art projects, including a coffee filter butterfly and a handmade canvass painting. The children also had the opportunity to visit Huffman’s peach farm, learning about how the farmers pick peaches from the trees, and were able to take home a bag full of delicious peaches!
During the second half of the camp, children learned about airplanes. We read the book, “Airplane Flight,” and the children enjoyed making toilet paper roll airplanes as well as moving their bodies around imitating an airplane while going through an obstacle course. We visited the Rowan County airport and were able to get inside of a real airplane! The kids also got to experience what it’s like inside of a real news helicopter. The WBTV news helicopter landed on the North Hills soccer field and allowed the children to explore the inside, manipulating the camera and pretending to interview their friends as if they were real-life reporters. We were even on the evening news!
The summer camp has been hosted at North Hills for the past three years and field trips are made possible by a partnership with Partners In Learning which provides a bus and driver for each trip. The program is directed by Dr. Ashley Deaton with Footprints In The Community and One Step At A Time Therapy services. Each year, two groups of children ages 2-10 meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in the month of July. Curriculum topics vary by year; in past years we have learned about trains, animals, and bears. The camp is completely free to the families and offers so many wonderful opportunities that the children may not otherwise have. Many of these children do not receive therapies during the summer and benefit from the structure of the camp. The camp is beneficial to typically developing children as well; as many children do not have the opportunity to be in an inclusive environment alongside children with special needs and when buddied up their peer who may have a physical disability or a speech delay, they develop and increased appreciation and acceptance of individual differences. They master skills by practicing and teaching others and many of these peer mentors end up aspiring to be teachers. Footprints In The Community holds various fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for the camp and they also rely on grants in addition to donations from local businesses and individuals for funding. If you would be interested in having your children attend the camp next year or if you would like to volunteer for next year’s camp, please visit http://footprintsinthecommunity.com.
Katie Zink is a graduate of Catawba College and serves as a CBRS therapist for Partners In Learning. Prior to her role as a therapist, Katie served as a teacher beginning in 2009. Working with children is her life’s passion.