Special Camp Assists Those with Disabilities

Post a Comment » Written on July 3rd, 2006     
Filed under: News
SCOTTS VALLEY, CA (July 3, 2006) – A 13-year relationship with Joni and Friends Family Retreats has opened the eyes of the staff at Mission Springs Camp and Conference center to the needs of people with disabilities and their families, says Bill Walton, the camp’s director of development and marketing. At the same time, the campers have had the opportunity to take a break from the challenges of everyday life.

In 2005, Mission Springs had to add a second week of camping due to the number of people wanting to attend, Walton says. Each week, as many as 60 children with various disabilities as well as their families participate.

Pool Equipped for Special NeedsJoni and Friends supplies an individual counselor for each of the children so that family members can get a break, Walton says. Mission Springs supplies the support staff.

“I think it’s a real eye-opener for the staff because they don’t have that kind of experience,” Walton says. “If they have not been around people with disabilities, there’s a whole new set of needs you have to become aware of.”

Those needs have led the Mission Springs staff to make changes. “The challenge to us in hosting these retreats is for Mission Springs to be all that Joni and Friends needs us to be,” says Julie Larson, guest services director. “This means adding ramps to make buildings wheelchair accessible; raising dining room tables to accommodate wheelchairs; adding shower chairs in the bathrooms, removing doors if be – just about whatever it takes to make these retreats a blessing for these extra-special families.”

This year, the camp added a chair lift for the swimming pool. The chair lift will help the disabled access the water, says Walton. Additional flotation devices also were purchased.

The chair and flotation devices cost $7,158 and was funded through matching gifts of the Christian Fund for the Disabled, which is associated with Joni and Friends; and Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church, Walton says. The camp contributed the balance.

A diving accident in 1967 left Joni Eareckson Tada a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, unable to use her hands. During two years of rehabilitation, she spent months learning how to paint with a brush between her teeth. The film “Joni,” which chronicles her life, has been translated into 15 languages.

According to her nonprofit organization’s website, “Joni and Friends exists to communicate the gospel and equip Christ-honoring churches worldwide to evangelize and disciple people affected by disability.” The organization also helps churches and other Christian organizations to minister to people with disabilities.

To learn more about Mission Springs, visit the website at Mission Springs.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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