On Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2, Saint Martin’s University will host the first Camp Abilities Olympia. The two-day camp is free and offers visually impaired and blind youth aged 9 to 19 the opportunity to experience sports and recreation. The other main objective of the camp is to teach the Athletes to be advocates for themselves and to teach Physical Education Teachers and Coaches how they can be included in sports safely. Camp Abilities Olympia also welcomes any teachers or coach who would like to learn the skill sets necessary to include visually impaired youth in sports. Camp Abilities Olympia is based on the original Camp Abilities Brockport founded by the Lauren Lieberman, Ph.D. (21) years ago and continues to offer a (1) week camp every summer.
Camp Abilities Olympia is produced locally by Keith Edgerton, an Olympia resident who is the Sustainability Coordinator at St. Peter’s Hospital and Olympia Area High School Girls Lacrosse Coach. Keith was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa and has been legally blind for over 11 years.
“Sports has always been such a big part of my life and I want children with visual impairments to learn all of the ways they can safely participate in sports,” Edgerton explained. He applied for State of WA Business License and a Federal 501(c)(3) Non Profit Exempt Status in his free time, gathered a team of teachers and volunteers, and began seeking 15 youth to join the 2016 camp. His team has experience in sports coaching, physical education and fundraising to help bring this community event to life.
Bob Grisham, Athletic Director-Saint Martin’s University said, “We are excited about being the host and providing these kids with an opportunity to experience in some case activities they may have ever been exposed to. We look forward to this first camp and building a relationship for the future”
There will be one adult assigned to each of the 15 campers. Each day will be filled with sports stations featuring beep kickball, goalball, track and soccer. Meals will be provided and campers will sleep on the floor with sleeping pads and sleeping bags after a fun night of entertainment.
Research has shown that individuals with visual impairments have a lower level of fitness than their sighted peers. Research has also shown that there is a lack of opportunity for physical activity and fitness for individuals with visual impairments, due to the belief that they are not capable of developing appropriate motor skills, to fear of injury, and to educator’s lack of preparation. Camp Abilities Olympia offers campers the instruction and tools to learn how to become active members of their schools and communities.
Evergreen Concrete Cutting, Olympia Federal Savings, Andy Johnson & Co, and RHD Enterprises have all donated funds to help make this Camp a reality. Camp Abilities Olympia is a volunteer run organization and is very appreciative of any donations it receives. To find out more about this camp, you can visit their website: www.campabilitiesolympia.com
“I believe we need to make an effort as a community to ensure all children get an opportunity to engage in sports” Edgerton said. “I hope this camp inspires each athlete to chase after every dream they have in life and to never give up”.