Kids Included Together is offering free training to the San Diego chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). When we learned that they recently chose to exclude Devyn Solo, 13, who was born with cystic fibrosis, from their STEM summer camp, we felt a call to action. This is exactly why we exist – to help support camps in serving kids with diverse needs.
“We want to help teach groups like AAUW, who may be uncomfortable about how to provide accommodations for children with disabilities in their program, to see how simple it can be to include all children,” said KIT’s CEO Torrie Dunlap (who wrote a guest blog post here in May). “We know everyone starts at a different place with inclusion, so we meet people where they are and teach them how to comply with federal laws and be welcoming to every family.”
We often meet camp directors and staff who love all kids and want to provide them with an amazing camp experience, but they are intimidated by inclusion. If staff do not have the tools they need to support kids with disabilities, it can seem overwhelming. What we do is empower their staff and volunteers with practical strategies and easy accommodations to help them feel comfortable serving all kids. When we heard about Devyn’s experience, we reached out to the AAUW in San Diego to offer our help and to prevent this from happening to anyone else in the future. Inclusion benefits everyone, and we hope that someday, all camps will feel confident in their ability to include all kids.
KIT offers camps the following tips for working with children with and without disabilities in summer camps:
1. Provide ongoing staff training on how to include campers and interested campers with disabilities.
2. Partner with families to understand the child’s goals for participation and the specific accommodations that will need to be made.
3. Provide alternative forms of communication when necessary (example, using visual schedules for children with limited verbal language).
4. Understand that modeling and repetition may be necessary for campers to participate successfully, or that you may need to shorten or lengthen the time given to an activity.
5. Allow frequent breaks for reasons that may include:
- medication management
- restroom use
- hydration and nutrition
According to Torrie, “Often times all it takes is a simple accommodation to make sure everyone can attend camp. KIT exists because we believe everyone benefits when all kids are included. We can help summer programs understand what it takes to comply with state and federal mandates and most importantly, include all kids in their programs.”
–Written by KIT staff
Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.