Summer is in full swing here at Paraquad!
In addition to baseball games, BBQs, and sunshine, that also means summer camps for our Youth and Family Program participants.
Paraquad is offering five camps this summer: Computer Camp, Adventures to Transition Camp, More Than You Bargained For, Self-Discovery Camp and Empowerment to Leadership Camp.
Diane Wieland, Youth and Family Coordinator at Paraquad, says that through these camps, a youth can work on transitioning to adulthood.
“It opens their eyes to what the world is,” said Wieland.
According to Wieland, transition for a young person consists of education, employment, housing, transportation and recreation. Youth and Family camps focus on students taking ownership of these steps, a concept that is new to some. Since Paraquad provides transportation for the campers, experiencing independence starts for some as soon as they leave their house without their parents, an empowering moment.
This week’s camp, More Than You Bargained For, teaches the students about personal finance and what is involved when it comes to getting an apartment. How much does it cost? What kind of income do you have? After you have an apartment, what food can you afford to put in it?
Students work on creating realistic budgets, and they even had a banker come and speak to them about setting up bank accounts. Students were also encouraged to ask their own questions and speak for themselves.
Even playing a game like Monopoly is an opportunity to engage students in discussions about financial decisions.
Summer is just starting — there are still four more upcoming summer camp sessions.
- Self-Discovery Camp (June 27-July 1) covers the background of the Independent Living movement and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Weiland wants students to know it’s OK to be proud of your disability.
- Empowerment to Leadership Camp (July 18-22) is similar to the Self-Discovery Camp, however this camp is for a younger crowd, ranging only from ages 10-13. This focuses more on teaching students, “I am different with my disability, and that’s OK.”
- Computer Camp (July 25-29) involves learning basic computer skills, such as searching and applying for a job online, creating a resume and even creating PowerPoint presentations.
- Adventure to Transition Camp (August 1-5) provides each youth the opportunity to look into their future. Where do they want to live? How would they set up an apartment? Students learn how to apply for college and go through each step of the process. They learn about accommodation that can be provided for them through the schools, such as more time for tests or having someone else take notes for them. Weiland recalls a field trip they took during this camp to the mall, traveling via MetroLink. It was the first time for some. “‘Now I can do it on my own,'” Weiland quoted a student as saying.
For some students, these camps open doors for them that they may not have known existed. Weiland’s team connects students with the accommodations and resources they need to be successful. This summer, for example, a student who wanted to go to college never knew how to get access the accommodations to succeed in class. The Youth and Family team toured St. Louis Community College-Forest Park‘s campus and introduced him to people who could ensure he received accommodations. The student is now exploring enrollment there.
Thanks to some springtime promotion, 90 percent of the students in these summer camps are first timers to Paraquad, a statistic that is exciting to the Youth and Family Program.
Weiland has a message for parents who might be debating on sending your child to camp: “Try it. You can be the first step to their independence.”
Tiffany Axton is the Marketing and Public Relations Assistant at Paraquad. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.