Children with disabilities are twisting, turning and tumbling this summer at ADEC’s Camp Wy.Not.
With help from a grant from the Goshen Health Foundation, ADEC has introduced more physical activity and health education into programs for children and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Goshen Health Foundation exists to help improve the health of local communities by tackling challenges like obesity and sedentary lifestyles — both of which are more prevalent among children with disabilities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, children with disabilities are 38 percent more likely to be obese than children without disabilities. Additionally, a 2014 study by the University of Florida found that physical activity levels for children with disabilities trend 4.5 times lower than for children without disabilities.
But staff at ADEC are working hard to make sure the people they serve are living happy, healthy and active lives.
At ADEC’s summer camp, known as Camp Wy.Not, campers are spending at least 60 minutes each day participating in some sort of physical activity. Swimming, bowling, gymnastics, soccer and recreational therapy are all on the schedule this summer.
This is the first year ADEC’s summer campers have practiced gymnastics. Because of the Goshen Health grant, ADEC was able to partner with Leaps & Bounds to create a class specifically designed for children with disabilities.
Camie Green, owner of the gymnastics studio, has a degree in physical education and has taught special education classes in the past. Although Leaps & Bounds has always accommodated children with disabilities, working with ADEC was the first time she designed a program specifically catered to them.
Classes start with stretching and dancing, and by the end ADEC’s summer campers are bouncing down the trampoline and twirling through the air into a foam pit.
“We had so much fun and they had so much fun,” she said. “We were asking them to do things outside of their comfort zone. Not only were they willing to try, but they were excited to take the next step. They have all just done such a wonderful job not being afraid.”
Camie said she enjoyed watching the students have a good time and looks forward to working with ADEC in the future.
Katie Kessler, ADEC’s director of family services, watched from the side of the room as the summer campers gathered around a parachute and bounced balls into the air with it. She noted the coordination and teamwork the activity required.
“It’s so cool to see all of them participating,” Katie said. “Even some of our campers who typically don’t move or speak much are completely engaged.”
Thank you, Goshen Health Foundation!
Goshen Health awarded nearly $350,000 in grants to 29 community organizations throughout Goshen and the surrounding area in 2018. The grants, awarded through Goshen Health’s Community Benefit Fund, are awarded to nonprofits that share the health system’s mission to improve the health of the community.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the fund. Goshen Health says priority is given to organizations addressing specific community needs such as access to health and mental health services, reducing obesity, treating chronic diseases, advancing cancer research and tobacco cessation efforts.
“Providing this support to these organizations allows us to extend our mission of improving the health of our communities,” said Randy Christophel, chief executive officer of Goshen Health.
“These nonprofits are experts at what they do. By supporting them and helping them fulfill their missions, we are working together to meet the diverse needs of the people who live and work in our communities.”
Jonny Riblet, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair was still able to sit on the trampoline and use his upper-body strength to bounce himself into the air. Meanwhile, other campers walked like a crab on four legs across the entire length of the mat.
As he pulled the parachute taught and the plush ball hit the ceiling of the gymnastics studio, camper James Kirkland exclaimed: “This is so much fun!”