A new summer sports camp has some Austin kids moving in ways they never imagined and it's building their confidence. For the first time ever Dell Children's Medical Center and the YMCA of Austin are teaming up to offer Camp in Motion to area children with cerebral palsy.
The adaptive sports camp is fun disguised as therapy.
"We're serving kids with cerebral palsy in summer camp but it changes the lives of those around them," said YMCA of Austin President James Finck.
"We really try to work with maximizing every child's ability regardless of their cerebral palsy," said Chris Scott who serves as the clinical manager for rehabilitation services at Dell Children's Medical Center.
The five day camp features a new sport every day. Campers learn how to play soccer and basketball and other sports they might not otherwise have the opportunity to play. Therapists with Dell Children's Medical Center volunteer their time to work at the camp alongside YMCA staffers and volunteers.
"You can tell by the look on their faces how much fun they are having and how much work they are putting into their therapy," said Scott.
The idea for the camp started two years ago when Laura Avery realized Austin needed something like this. Avery's daughter, Kate, has cerebral palsy and had the opportunity to go to Camp Independence in St. Louis.
"What I saw from her in that experience was amazing. She came home saying she played tennis for the first time and got to do yoga and scored soccer goals. Her self-confidence was raised so much," said Avery.
Two years ago Avery reached out to Dell Children's and the YMCA to start laying the ground work for the program. Thanks to team work, the dream for a camp in Austin became a reality. The hard work she says is paying off in a big way.
Kate is now 12 and a camper. Her favorite part of the camp so far has been playing soccer. Avery's oldest daughter, Addie, is volunteering.
"It's a cool opportunity to see other kids like my sister and help them out too," said Addie Avery. "My camper is Amber and she always tries to do things that someone might tell her she can't do," explained Addie.
Amber, Addie's camper, loves camp. She's 15 and says the camp gives her a chance to prove to people that anything is possible. "What I love about camp is I can do what normal kids do. Since I was five I wanted to be on the soccer team but I had so much therapy I could never do it," said Amber.
Amber and Kate passed the basketball back and forth surrounded by a support team.
"I have always been on the sidelines and I'm tired of being on the sidelines," said Amber.
"What we are hearing from parents is their children talk about camp from the time they get picked up until when they go to bed and then first thing again in the morning," said Scott.
For many of the kids it is their first time at sports camp and they can't wait to come back next summer.
"In one word what's happening is truly magical," said Finck.
Both the YMCA of Austin and Dell Children's Medical Center hope to expand Camp in Motion to five or six weeks next summer and help even more children.