June 6, 2009
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
SRU sees involvement possibilities with vision sports camp
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's upcoming Tuesday through Friday VIP Sports Camp will provide 50 children who are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to participate in swimming, track and field, horseback riding and other sports not typically available to them.
"Many of these children don't have the chance to participate in these sports, because of lack of knowledge, lack of opportunity or because they do not have specialized equipment," said Wendy Fagan, SRU instructor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences and camp director.
Campers from western Pennsylvania and Ohio will try their hand at tandem biking, Taekwondo, goal ball, fishing, canoeing, beep baseball, rock climbing, golf and archery. Beep baseball is a sport that uses a ball that makes a noise, enabling batters to hear an incoming pitch.
SRU faculty members and students in the adapted physical activity program will run the sports stations. The University's adapted physical activity program prepares graduates to manage sports programs for those with disabilities. Students in the program will be the coaches at the camp.
"The camp is a learning experience for participants, and it helps to prepare our students for their careers by giving them experience with children who are blind or visually impaired," Fagan said. "They will learn more from the participants in one week of camp than they could ever learn from a textbook."
Lauren Rhoads, an athletic training major from Souderton, said volunteering gives her the opportunity to help children and get to know them.
"I love volunteering because of the people," Rhoads said. "The other volunteers are always fun to work with, and the kids always work their way into your heart. This is an opportunity for the campers to come and try things that others might say is impossible for them to do. Being part of that experience is a big reason I am so willing to help."
Coaches need to be flexible because children exhibit different attitudes.
"You have to be open to anything when working with children," she said. "Some don't want your help with anything, and other are attached to you the whole week. It really depends on the kid you are with at the time. I've found that as long as you are willing to have a good time right along with them, the kids will usually think you're OK."
Fagan said campers would stay active from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. They will participate in three morning activities, break for lunch, complete four afternoon activities, go to dinner and finish their day with an evening sport and social event. Many of the children sleep in SRU's residence halls, gaining an authentic camp experience.
"There are a ton of benefits, not just the actually physical benefits," Fagan said. "Camp is a great opportunity to meet new friends, increase their level of activity and feel a new level of confidence."
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.