For blind campers, a first chance to swim and canoe

Wed Jul 3, 2013 4:29pm EDT
 
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By Caurie Putnam

BROCKPORT, New York (Reuters) - On her first attempt ever at the long jump, the applause came before 16-year-old Dah Ku even broke a stride.

"Follow the clapping sounds, Dah Ku," cried Marielhi Rosado, Ku's counselor at Camp Abilities, a developmental sports camp for the blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind at the College at Brockport, State University of New York.

Ku, who is visually impaired, followed the noise from Rosado's hands and ran 14 strides down the track before abruptly stopping. A few false starts later, she jumped six feet.

Rosado, an undergraduate studying orientation and mobility for the blind at Florida State University, teared up and clapped in celebration.

"This is only her first full day at camp and she's coming along so much," Rosado said of Ku, whose family moved from Thailand to Utica, New York, two years ago and who speaks limited English. "By the time Friday comes I know she'll be even more independent and confident," Rosado said.

Ku is one of 52 students who recently spent a week at the not-for-profit camp, founded in 1996 by Lauren Lieberman, a professor at the College at Brockport and an internationally known researcher and author on adaptive physical education.

The goal of the camp is twofold, using sport to foster independence and confidence in youngsters with limited sight and to form a basis for research into teaching methods and adaptive curricula.

Since its inception, the Camp Abilities model has expanded to other independently funded locations in the United States, from Alaska to Pennsylvania. Camp Abilities in Ohio, Florida and Saratoga Springs, New York, are slated to open next summer.   Continued...

 
Children pose for their group photograph at Camp Abilities in Brockport, New York, June 25, 2013. Camp Abilities is a not-for-profit week-long developmental camp using sports to foster greater independence and confidence in children who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind. Photo taken June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch