May 22, 2018
Children with Low Vision Bring High Goals to CampAbilitiesPA@WCU
Beach season traditionally opens this weekend, but 65 West Chester University students will forego that trip "downa shore." Instead, they're volunteering at CampAbilitiesPA@WCU (CAPA), enabling children who are blind or have low vision to participate in sports and wellness activities. CAPA opens Saturday morning, May 26, and concludes around 12 p.m. on Monday, May 28.
The CampAbilities tagline is "Believe you can achieve!" And that is exactly what this year's 29 campers ages 7–18 will do, including tandem biking and running track and cross-country paired with a sighted WCU student coach. There's also swimming and goalball, in which two teams try to score goals with a ball that emits audible sound when in motion, plus volleyball, gymnastics, and basketball. Campers will also play futsal, a team sport derivative of soccer and played on a basketball-style court with no walls and a smaller, low-bouncing ball.
No matter the activity, says Monica Lepore, WCU kinesiology professor and CAPA camp director, "The athletes participate in activities and drills that encourage proper running form, pacing techniques," etc. They receive one-on-one coaching from performance coaches from WCU's adapted physical education program. These are majors in health and physical education, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and special education who have taken classes and trainings focused on teaching sport and physical activity to students with visual impairments. Head coaches are trained professionals in the fields of adapted physical education, adapted sport, occupational and physical therapies, and visual impairment who have experience teaching at CAPA.
There are more options this year for campers to select additional activities and participate in sessions on wellness, health, nutrition education, personal safety, and physical activity beyond sports.
Campers arrive Friday evening, May 25, at 4:45 p.m. at South Campus Apartments. All activities take place on WCU's South Campus in Sturzebecker Health Sciences center, in Farrell Stadium, and on the playing fields. Activities run in rotations mornings from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and afternoons from 2:15 to 5:15 p.m.
Lepore is coordinator of WCU's minor in Physical Education for Students with Disabilities (PEID), the Adapted Physical Activity club, and the "4 Service Learning Community" program. She has been a faculty member at WCU for more than 30 years.
CampAbilitiesPA by the numbers:
current WCU students (of many majors) as volunteer staff, head coaches, performance coaches, and support team
nutrition majors and 2 nutrition faculty planning, organizing, and implementing plant-based meals for 90 people over 4 days
kinesiology faculty members as directors
alumni as staff and head coaches
children and teens ages 7 to 18 years old who have blindness or low vision
continuous hours that each volunteer serves over a holiday weekend