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Summer camp proves life-changing for kids who are visually-impaired: 'Our disability doesn’t define us'

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 19:53:23-04

OZAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. — Summer camp is an American tradition and rite of passage for most kids. But for those who are blind or visually impaired, it can be a rare and truly life-changing experience. That’s why two local groups are making sure every child gets the chance to go.

There is joy around every corner at the Albert and Ann Deshur Rainbow Day Camp in Ozaukee County. It is owned and operated by the Harry and Rose Samson Jewish Community Center, which partners with the Vision Forward Association to make a four-day sports camp possible and free for visually impaired children and teens from all over Wisconsin.

All games are adapted specifically for youth with vision loss so they can have equal opportunities to participate in swimming, kayaking, baseball, tennis, and a variety of other sports.

According to Vision Forward, 70 percent of school-age children who are blind have never participated in any sport or physical activity.

Kids who participate in Rainbow Day Camp get the opportunity to learn new skills and build friendships that lead to increased self-confidence and independence.

“I’ve been coming here for four years and I’m never stopping,” said Bryce Jensen, 18, from Racine. “I love this. A lot of times, we aren’t ever included, or we just hang out at home. Not here.”

“It makes you feel like you don’t have to face the world alone,” said Samual Yuan, 11, from Mequon.

“I am doing everything that I want to do, and I’m not letting my disability get in the way,” said Michael Diaz, 18, from Muskego. “We want to be treated like regular people and have the same opportunities to do stuff. Our disability doesn’t define us.”

For long-time Rainbow Day Camp Director, Lenny Kass, that’s what it’s all about. “This is why I do this work, to see kids smiling and being able to be kids,” he said.

Camp website/info here: https://vision-forward.org/news-events/summercamp2022/

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