CHIC Team Assists Those With Special Needs

Post a Comment » Written on July 16th, 2009     
Filed under: News
KNOXVILLE, TN (July 16, 2009) – CHIC organizers want to make sure that people with special needs have a great time during their week here on the campus of the University of Tennessee.

“Ultimately, we want to help the kids integrate into everything that is going on and figure out a way, if at all possible, to have whatever needs they might have be minimized so they can fully participate,” says Dave Anderson, who has been responsible for making sure that happens over the last three events. “Kids can help define what they want to do, and we try to help them get there.”

Anderson (in the center of the accompanying photo) started as a buddy for a student during the first CHIC to be held at Knoxville in 2000. Then someone learned he had run national operations for Easter Seals and asked him to coordinate the efforts.

TeamThe work begins when students register, and Anderson begins to learn which people may need assistance. He then works with families and youth workers to prepare for the week.

“We try to anticipate so that when we get here, we have a better handle on what the needs are,” Anderson says. “We also try to educate churches about how big the campus is so when they get here, they know what to expect.”

Churches are asked to send “buddies” with each of the students needing assistance. “It’s not to chaperone, it’s not to keep them out of trouble. It’s to be a buddy,” Anderson says.

The churches are asked to supply the buddies because the people in the congregation know the person’s needs better than anyone else.

CHIC supplies whatever other support may be needed, whether it be driving people around campus, making sure events are accessible, or providing interpreters.

CHIC contracts with a local company to provide professional interpreters during Main Stage events for people who are deaf or otherwise hearing impaired. Space is reserved for the students and their youth groups in the seats to the right side of the stage, so they can see the interpreters.

“In some respects, most of my work is done before CHIC,” Anderson says. Once he arrives on campus, “I’m a concierge. Tell me what you want, and I’ll try to make that happen.”

The week began with roughly 25 people needing some form of assistance. That number has grown by half as people sprained ankles, broke toes, or were otherwise injured.

The team is available 24 hours a day throughout the week. Anderson assists with driving, but the primary drivers are Glenn Ritchie of Clay, New York, pictured at left in the accompanying photo, and Larry Babb of New Brighton, Minnesota, pictured at right.

They speak with excitement about one of their passengers who initially did not want to come to CHIC, but told them after he arrived that he was thrilled he came.

“We have the most appreciative group you’ve ever seen,” Ritchie says, with Babb quickly agreeing.

The team is available 24 hours a day throughout the week.

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