The following blog was written by Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Summer 2021 Camp Intern.
My name is Maddie Farrell, I’m 20 years old, and I have lived in Houston my entire life. I’m a rising junior at Texas A&M University, where I’m studying Environmental Science in hopes to work in the sustainability field. I am involved in my sorority and Aggie ACHIEVEMates, a student organization that supports the students with disabilities in the ACHIEVE program at Texas A&M. I’m very passionate about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s mission and advocating for people with disabilities. I first started volunteering with Easter Seals Greater Houston in high school through my chapter of National Charity League. I’ve volunteered at both Camp Smiles and Camp Buckaroo and I loved my experiences at both of them. I had no idea how great an impact Easter Seals Greater Houston and their clients would have on my life when I first volunteered. I have met so many amazing kids, made so many sweet friendships, and learned a lot about myself and what it means to make a difference. I’m beyond excited to serve as a camps intern for the second year in a row and I can’t wait to see the kids in person this year!
Did you know that June is National Camping Month? Easter Seals Greater Houston proudly hosts numerous accessible day and overnight camps throughout Texas. Help ensure children with disabilities have a barrier free summer and parents of children with disabilities receive caregiving relief. Donate Today! #NationalCampingMonth
Camp Buckaroo, Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s day camp, is in full swing and we are having a blast! Camp is great for the campers because it’s filled with love and acceptance. One mom said that camp is the only place where her child, who has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound and nonverbal, feels like a regular kid. “She tends to be a daredevil and has an amazing spirit to try new things, and at camp she and her attitude are celebrated!”
The impact of Easter Seals camp isn’t limited to the campers though. Parents often struggle to find quality camps for children with disabilities at affordable rates. Many parents talked about extensive medical costs, and changes in primary insurance that have made deductibles skyrocket; Camp Buckaroo‘s scholarships are a true blessing for these families. And we couldn’t offer those scholarships without community support!
Our volunteers are also relishing in the joy of our summer camps. This veteran volunteer said it best: I’ve realized over the years what a positive influence a volunteer can be to a camper. It’s amazing to witness a camper grow and become more confident, all because a volunteer motivates them and showers them with support. Buckaroo makes a huge impact on everyone involved!”
Special thanks to National Charity League Bayou Village Chapter, The Amerigroup Foundation, The George Foundation, United Way Greater Houston and United Way Montgomery County for making our work possible!
As a Social Work Intern at Easter Seals Greater Houston, I am always astounded by the wonderful opportunities that our support services and resources provide to our clients. I wanted to take the time to share with everyone the transformation I have seen in our adult clients in the LEAD (Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities) through the assistance of technology.
We recently received new IPADS for the program (thank you anonymous donor from National Charity League!, AT&T and Comcast), and the elation of “owning” a new, shiny, and most importantly, customizable and current device is continuously evident on all of our client’s faces. Everyone in our program, even our most senior of members, have quickly learned how to use this new tool to expand their independence through communication, education, and social apps. We have worked together, along with our Apps expert in our BridgingApps program, to personalize and meet the needs of our clients. There is a visible increase in confidence in everyone’s eyes and they are so excited to be able to take part in so many things that they have been hearing about…why should they be excluded? Being able to access and use an IPAD has made our clients feel empowered, more in control and more a part of A COMMUNITY. I felt this defining moment after learning that my clients were using their Ipads while making their long trips to their destinations on Metrolift or to plan social events and activities. Another experience was learning that some of our clients were using the Ipad apps to find more customizable voices for communication! Everyone was happy to find out that they could choose warmer, more human voices instead of the generic ones available on other AAC devices . This allowed them to choose how they wanted to be represented via their technology communication. The opportunity to use IPADS for our adult program has really made a difference in their lives. This tool has allowed for more independence and learning that is matched to each user’s interests and goals.
Emmony Pena, Social Work Intern, Easter Seals Greater Houston, from U of H Graduate Collage of Social Work